(Reuters) – Frenchman Benoit Paire criticised Australian Open organisers for their “shameful” treatment of players during quarantine ahead of the Grand Slam event and said lack of training due to strict restrictions contributed to his first-round exit.
World number 29 Paire, who lost 2-6 6-2 6-7(5) 5-7 to Egor Gerasimov, was one of 72 players who were unable to leave their rooms to train during quarantine after passengers on their flights to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.
A few top-ranked players, including world number one Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, had self-isolated in Adelaide ahead of an exhibition event and were allowed to train five hours a day.
“I think it’s shit, and what happened is shameful,” Paire told French media on Monday. “I’m very happy with my level… but this tournament, I think it’s really crap.
“There was also a positive case on the flight to Adelaide, but there, they had time to take blood samples. We were told to quarantine.
“Either we do the same things and the same rules for everyone. I do not understand why it’s not fair for everyone… This match, I could have won it if I had had one or two more training sessions, a normal preparation.”
The 31-year-old said money was a major factor in hosting the Feb. 8-21 event amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s all about the money,” he said. “There is a huge loss if they don’t make the tournament.
“Most players think that there is a little bit of money to be made and they come for it.
“I also play for money. But if you have to make so many sacrifices and things go so badly, let it be such a hassle, at some point you just have to say stop.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)