Italian tennis star Matteo Berrettini has told Eurosport about life in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open, revealing that he has been separated from his girlfriend despite staying in the same hotel.
Due to the Australian government's strict Covid-19 rules - which have resulted in no positive tests within the community in the last three weeks - players were forced to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in the country.
Roughly 500 players are now set to emerge from quarantine just six days ahead of the main event, with exhibition tournaments already underway in Adelaide.
And while Berrettini appreciates the requirement for such restrictions, he admitted there have been a few complications with his living situation.
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"The only complicated thing for me is that Ajla (Tomljanovic – his girlfriend) is six floors below me but despite the negative tests and everything, we’re not allowed to see each other," he told Eurosport. "The good thing is that once we’ve passed this process, you are in fact free. On Sunday, my 14 days will end and then it’s normal life; the restaurants are open, you can go for walks.
"Now we can go out but only when we are authorised to do so. That is either for when we’re training on court or in the gym. If I open the door to my room now, the security will tell me to go back inside. But in the end, it’s okay; it could be worse."
Given the exceptional circumstances and the need to train, players were allowed outside of their rooms to practice for five hours a day, and Berrettini has taken advantage of that to get ready for the first Grand Slam of the year.
"I’ve managed to go out every day with my coach," he added. "I am able to train here in my room on the exercise bike in the morning, then two hours on court in the afternoon, and as I say, I’ve made sure it’s all intense.
"I trained well and the quality of training was good with high intensity. I feel good."
Fans will be permitted at the Australian Open - albeit with some zonal restrictions - and Berrettini says that the idea of returning to play in front of supporters for the first time in almost 12 months helped him get through a difficult period in quarantine.
"The roar is just something I missed," he said.
"At the US Open it was very strange, especially for a tournament that is usually very loud. To me personally, the fans are something that charges me. Even in Rome, when I lost pretty badly against Fabio Fognini, hearing the crowds roaring on the central court, seeing all the people there waiting and cheering for you, is something unique, something that for me makes all the difference at the end of the day.
The thought of experiencing a normal tournament, with spectators, helps you. In short, I faced it thinking, now I’ll hold on because then it’ll be better.
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