Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut has been forced to apologise after likening quarantine conditions before the Australian Open to prison “but with wifi”.
The world no13, also a previous quarter-finalist in Melbourne, voiced his frustration after 72 players were confined to a hard quarantine in their hotel rooms for two weeks after arriving in Australia.
The Spaniard drew comparisons with being behind bars in a television interview. He said: “It’s the same but with wifi. These people have no idea about tennis and about practice courts, and it’s a complete disaster. The control of everything isn’t Tennis Australia, it’s with the government.
“You can work in the room but it’s not the same. I feel very, very tight and I cannot imagine staying two weeks like this. It’s really, really tough. I will have to work a lot mentally.”
Players have been vilified for their criticisms of the situation, including world no1 Novak Djokovic after requesting players in hard quarantine be moved into private houses with tennis courts and have their 14-day isolation period reduced.
And following a backlash from his interview, Bautista Agut issued a public apology later on Tuesday.
“I want to apologise to everyone who has been offended by the video that was posted about me recently,” he said. “It is a private conversation taken out of context that has unfortunately been released to the media without my knowledge or consent.
“Both my coach and I are following the protocols designed by the Australian government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way. These are hard times for athletes and society in general.
“I thank all the people who are making playing tennis again possible. As well as all those who are fighting Covid-19 everyday. The management that has been made in Australia to prevent the spread of the virus is admirable.”