CHENNAI: Rohan Bopanna will have to find a new partner for the Australian Open after Joao Sousa withdrew from the event.
The Portuguese, who hadn't travelled with the main group to Melbourne to begin a two-week quarantine, had contracted Covid-19 last week. He has since tested negative for the virus but Sousa, World No 75 in doubles, said he will have to skip the Major event this time because of the government's mandatory two-week quarantine.
"Even though I already tested negative and have no symptoms, due to the strict rules of the Australian government, I won't be able to travel," he wrote on his Instagram page on Saturday. Considering the event begins on February 8, Sousa will still be in quarantine on the first day of competition. This has left Bopanna with the arduous task of finding a new partner while being in a hard quarantine.
"Yes, he has (not travelling to Australia) and I have to find one (a new partner)," Bopanna told TNIE. The last date for entry is on February 4. While most of the players currently in Melbourne can practice and use the gym for up to five hours every day, Bopanna cannot. Because he came in a flight that registered one positive case, he has since been confined to his hotel room. He will only exit that two-week hard quarantine after the next 5-6 days.
The challenge now for the World No 38 is to find somebody else who is already in Australia and observing quarantine. Even if he is hopeful of finding somebody, it's easier said than done. However, he will be partnering with Frederik Nielsen at one of the two ATP 250 meets in Melbourne, beginning on February 1. Another Indian who will feature in that ATP meet is Divij Sharan. He has been in Melbourne for more than a week. He got lucky because the flight he was in did not return any positive tests. "I have been out for close to five hours every day," he says. "That included training for about two hours and 90 minutes of gym work."
He will partner with Igor Zelenay at both events, Melbourne as well as at the Australian Open. Even though some of the other players have been less than happy with the facilities they have been provided, Sharan is happy. "They give us three meals a day, apart from that there's a bowl of fruits, the room is clean."
The World No 64 understands why the local government have had to take precautions with respect to quarantine.