Russian ace flew to Australia despite being Covid positive
Andrey Rublev has said he flew to Australia despite being positive for Covid, amid the fallout that eventually saw world number one Novak Djokovic deported and unable to defend his Australian Open crown.
World number six Rublev, who contracted Covid in December, was speaking to Eurosport as the Russian booked his spot in the third round in Melbourne with a straight sets win over Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.
"I personally do not test now, since I just got sick," Rublev answered when asked how often testing occurs at the tournament, which saw a positive case for Ugo Humbert on Wednesday.
"When I flew to Australia, I was still positive, but the level of Covid SS [severity score] – as it is called, I will not lie – was very low and harmless, and I was allowed in. Plus, I spent more than 10 days in quarantine," explained Rublev, who is fully vaccinated.
"Upon arrival, I had to take an antigen test, I passed it, it was negative, and I did not do a PCR test.
"Perhaps it would still show positive. But I'm no longer contagious and dangerous. Since I was ill, I no longer do a PCR test," the 24-year-old confirmed.
Rublev's remarks come after Alexander Zverev raised concerns that more players other than Humbert, who revealed he tested positive after losing in the first round to Richard Gasquet, might have Covid.
"We are allowed to go outside to eat, allowed to do whatever we want, so I think it's natural that more people get Covid," Zverev claimed at a press conference.
"I think quite a few players had it when they arrived. Quite a few players I think have it now. We're not getting tested, so I think if we would get tested there would be probably more positives than there are now, in a way."
Alexander #Zverev: "I think there are some positive players in the tournament. There are so many cases in Melbourne, yet we are allowed to go wherever we want without being tested. Personally, I voluntarily put myself in the bubble: I do not want to take any risk"#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/EFL6pp9oum— Mario Boccardi (@marioboc17) January 19, 2022
Amid calls to resign over the Djokovic saga, Tennis Australia head Craig Tiley, who was booed by some of the crowd at an appearance at Melbourne Park on Thursday, defended Covid protocol at the tournament which he said has "worked well" and been "successful."
"We're in a position where this is day four and we're going to go into another 10 days of some great tennis," Tiley vowed.
"We're continuing with not only that testing program but also the physical distancing and the wearing of masks – you can see in the player area all the players have masks on.
"We're constantly reminding them around hygiene and how they stay safe and not only keep themselves safe but ensure that we keep Victorians safe, because that's been our goal from the beginning," the under-fire figure stressed.
Earlier at the tournament, in the qualifying rounds, Aussie Bernard Tomic told umpire Aline Da Rocha Nocinto during a match that he thought he had the virus.
After falling 6-1, 6-4 to Roman Safiullin in under an hour, Tomic did indeed test positive two days later and before that said on Instagram he had been feeling "really sick" from his Melbourne hotel room in isolation.
On Monday, Tomic provided an update in a Stories video and said he was "taking it easy" and "light" back at the gym. "I'm starting to feel a bit better," he revealed.
Rublev's next outing at the Australian Open is a third round meeting with Marin Cilic.
Thus far in his career, he has gone no further than the quarter-finals at the Rod Laver Arena and was beaten by compatriot and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 edition of the competition.