Yulia Putintseva's Australian Open quarantine was something of a Cinderella story, but only in the sense that she was locked in a room for days at a time and repeatedly beset by mice.

The Russian-born Kazakh ultimately survived and lived to tell the tale (tail?) at the Volvo Car Open, where she advanced into the second round after a titanic tie-break against British lucky loser Harriet Dart.

"It was really bad," she told Steve Weissman at the Tennis Channel Desk. "I had a mouse in my room, and they couldn't help me because we were in isolation, so no one could come in and help me get rid of it. I was asking, 'What can I do? I don't want to stay with mice.' A few hours later, I was able to change rooms, but only to next door, and I was saying, the mouse is going to come back at some point."

Like every horror movie, just when the two-time French Open quarterfinalist thought she was safe...

"Two days later, I was thinking how I took this situation where we had to isolate for 14 days, and I just had to adapt to the situation, but that's right when I saw the mouse again! I don't know if it was the same mouse; I can't tell them apart!"


Putintseva was on one of two flights to Melbourne that ultimately yielded positive COVID-19 tests, which threw all of the passengers into so-called "hard quarantine." Pest problem notwithstanding, the 26-year-old was among the group's most vocal opponents of the strict conditions, arguing for fresh air in a post that went viral on Instagram.

"I was in pretty good shape, and played not too bad in Abu Dhabi. I lost from match point but it was a good match. I came to Australia, and we first heard about a plane needing to quarantine, but it was one that left after ours so we thought, 'Phew! Good that it's not us.' But later, I texted someone from the Australian Open asking when I could practice, and that's when I found out that someone on our plane tested positive for corona."


Her Australian summer ended with more disappointment as she soon discovered a kidney stone that forced her out of the Middle East swing, but things have seemingly turned around for Putintseva in Charleston, where she needed eight set points to survive that first set with Dart to win, 7-6 (8), 6-4, and book a second round clash with countrywoman Zarina Diyas.

Check out the full interview, where she opens up about her Mike Tyson connection and Eminem-inspired playlists.