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With Positive Tests, Australia’s Summer of Pro Tennis Has a Rocky Start

  • January 18, 2021

Tennis Australia chartered 17 flights from seven countries to bring players and support personnel to the tournament, limiting capacity to 25 percent on each plane. Tiley said Sunday that players were warned that coming to Australia involved the risk of being considered in close contact with someone who had tested positive, resulting in a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The flight from Abu Dhabi caused the most consternation because it carried players who had competed in the first event of the year on the women’s tour, among them Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, who played in the final on Wednesday.

Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA Tour, participated in one of the videoconferences Saturday, but the organization, which represents players and tournaments, has so far deferred to Tennis Australia on the consequences of the new cases.

A spokesman for the organization said the WTA was “working with Tennis Australia on the challenges currently being faced with a focus on finding appropriate solutions that support the significant efforts and investment that are being made surrounding the Australian Summer of Tennis.”

The players on the Los Angeles flight included Victoria Azarenka, the 2020 United States Open finalist and a two-time Australian Open champion.

Officials said a flight attendant and two others had tested positive on the Los Angeles flight as of Sunday. Sylvain Bruneau, the coach of the Canadian player Bianca Andreescu, said he had tested positive after arriving on the flight from Abu Dhabi.

“I have followed all of the safety protocols and procedures, including testing negative within 72 hours before the flight departure and felt perfectly fine when I boarded the plane,” Bruneau said in a statement. “I also respected and followed all Covid protocols and guidelines while in the Middle East. I have no idea how I might have contracted this virus. I am extremely saddened and sorry for the consequences now on everyone’s shoulders sharing my flight.”

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