Former women’s world number one Angelique Kerber says she may have thought twice about coming to Melbourne for the Australian Open had she known there was the possibility of spending two weeks in hard quarantine.
- Kerber was one of the 72 players who went into a hard lockdown in Melbourne
- She says her Australian Open preparation suffered from her being confined to her hotel room
- The German lost 6-0, 6-4 to Bernarda Pera in the first round
Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, was one of the 72 players who were forced to enter a hard hotel lockdown in Melbourne last month after passengers on the charter flights that carried them to Australia tested positive for coronavirus.
The move angered several players, including Spain’s Paula Badosa, who described her period of hotel quarantine as “the worst experience” of her career.
Kerber was not allowed to train on a tennis court until the 14-day isolation period expired late last month, less than two weeks before the start of the Australian Open.
The German lost in the first round of the season-opening major on Monday, going down 6-0, 6-4 to world number 66 Bernarda Pera.
Kerber, the 23rd seed, said she might have changed her mind about competing at the Australian Open if she knew players would be forced into a hard lockdown if required.
“When I’m looking back, of course I was not [planning] the two weeks’ hard quarantine,” Kerber told her post-match media conference at Melbourne Park.
“I don’t know. Maybe if I knew before that I would have to stay two weeks in the hard quarantine without hitting a ball, maybe I would think twice about that.
“But … it’s one of my favourite tournaments.
“Of course, I knew that we [were playing in front of some] fans, which is always such a different [feeling] than playing with no fans.
“It makes tennis playing much more fun to play out there. So that was my motivation.
“But, of course, if I knew the real situation before my trip, I would think maybe twice about coming here.”
Kerber took the opportunity to hit the courts only minutes after being released from quarantine last month.
She said it was challenging to train while being confined to a hotel room and it had an impact on her Australian Open preparation.
“I was really trying to stay positive and [make] the best out of the two-week situation,” Kerber said.
“But of course you feel it, especially if you play a real match where it counts and you play the first matches in a Grand Slam [tournament], also against an opponent who doesn’t stay in the hard lockdown.
“I was feeling this at the beginning, that of course my balls are always a little bit out and I was not feeling the rhythm that I was before the two weeks’ [quarantine], to be honest.”
Kerber, however, said Australian authorities were “doing a really good job” with managing the COVID-19 pandemic.