Two-time champion Boris Becker has questioned whether the upcoming Australian Open will be fair, given that 72 players have been confined to a hard lockdown in Melbourne.
Becker, who also coached defending men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic, said those who haven’t been able to train will be at a significant disadvantage when the tournament kicks off on February 8.
The rest of the field is entitled to five hours a day from their hotel room to train and exercise.
“When they come out of their forties, they haven’t even gone out into the great outdoors, haven’t played tennis,” Becker told Eurosport.
“No matter how many steps they’ve taken in the hall, they haven’t played ball, and then they have a week to prepare for the best-of-five (set) games, at least for the men, in hot conditions.
“This task doesn’t really work. All the winter preparation has been in vain. One has to wonder if these are a level playing field for everyone.
“As an organizer you have to ask yourself: is it fair, is it reasonable?”
Tournament director Craig Tiley has previously ruled out changing the tournament to the best of three sets for men, while tennis legend Todd Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports earlier this week. that it would not be impossible to perform well at the Australian Open after spending a fortnight in quarantine.
Becker’s comments come on day of Spanish Paula Badosa’s announcement she had tested positive for the virus while in quarantine in Melbourne.
Becker, who won in Melbourne in 1991 and 1996, also came to Djokovic’s defense, after the Serb was widely criticized for his list of demands, including moving players out of hotels and into private homes with tennis courts.
But Becker insisted Djokovic’s intentions were good.
“The points he made were absolutely fair and legitimate,” Becker said.
“We have the feeling that Djokovic can do whatever he wants right now, he’s just getting a lot of criticism.
“In this case (it was) really unwarranted. He wanted to defend the players, just wanted to create a level playing field for everyone, but was heavily criticized.”
Djokovic wrote on Twitter that his list of suggestions was simply “brainstorming” and “misinterpreted”.
For a daily dose of the best of the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter in click here!