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5 Jan, 2021 17:22

‘If you still hate me, that’s fine’: US tennis ace reveals he fled Russia with family on $40,000 private flight over Covid-19 saga

‘If you still hate me, that’s fine’: US tennis ace reveals he fled Russia with family on $40,000 private flight over Covid-19 saga

A tennis star has revealed his dramatic undercover dash to escape St. Petersburg after testing positive for Covid-19, funding a private jet because he feared being forced to spend two weeks in a Russian hospital with his family.

Vastly experienced Sam Querrey said he had been happy to isolate in a hotel for up to two weeks after multiple tests coming back positive, only for his wife to "panic" after he was allegedly told by ATP officials that he was no longer welcome at the accommodation and would be examined and cared for by Russian doctors.

That led to the former Wimbledon semi-finalist completing a dramatic escape from the hotel via a private jet to London, landing Querrey a $20,000 suspended fine and a controversy that he felt was unfair.

"I contacted a jet broker and said, 'can I get a plane in nine hours leaving from St. Petersburg to London?" Querrey admitted to Sports Illustrated, describing the decision he had to make after he said he had failed to receive "any answers" about the "random doctors" that would be visiting the family's room the following morning.

"And he came through and got one for me. We left the hotel early in the morning so we wouldn’t be seen and went right to the private jet terminal in St. Petersburg and flew to London.

"That was a very, very expensive flight. It was about $40,000. And I also had to pay for an Airbnb for two weeks in London."

Querrey and model wife Abby Dixon had been looked after in the hotel for two days but became worried that their seven-month son would be separated from them because of the infant's pre-existing fever, asking for a delay until the following morning when they were asked to let doctors into their room at 10pm at night.

He said they had been told a doctor and a pediatric specialist would visit them with a view to keeping them in hospital for at least two weeks if they were deemed symptomatic.

Adding that they had "no symptoms", he then told agent John Tobias: "Hey, we feel very vulnerable - it’s very uncomfortable. It’s in the hands of these Russian doctors and they are going to determine whether or not we go to a hospital in Russia for two weeks?"

"I describe it like on a scale of 1-10," Querrey explained. "We had symptoms that were a 1.5-to-2…  sore throat, a runny nose - three days later we were fine. In my opinion, not at all did we need to go to the hospital.

"The easiest choice for us was to stay at the hotel in Russia for the 10-to-14 day quarantine and then fly home. That's what I wanted to do the whole time.

"And that option was taken away from me. That's why I had to do what I had to do. At no point did I think, 'COVID, let’s get the hell out of here.'

"We were offered an apartment but they wouldn’t tell me where it was, how we were going to get food, and we were offered that apartment if these doctors determined that the three of us were not symptomatic.

"I will say that on that journey, my wife and I wore medical masks, we wore N-95s, we never took the mask off to have a sip of water or a bite of food the entire time.

"We landed, we went right to an Airbnb that I rented, and we quarantined there for two weeks.

"We were aware of the risk but we didn’t think that anything more than quarantining in a hotel room would ever come about.

“It's not as simple as, 'oh, I got COVID, and then I went to my wife and said, ‘Let’s sneak out of here.’

"If you still hate me after knowing what happened, that's fine. I just want to say what happened and then people can judge me on what happened."

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