As we say goodbye to another year, Baseline will take a look at the moments that made the 2021 season so special.

1. Australian Open Quarantine Craziness

Watch what happens when 250 players find themselves trapped in their hotel rooms for two weeks Down Under. It sounds like a reality show, and that's what the 'Great Tennis Quarantine' often resembled as the Australian Open field went into confinement at the beginning of the season.

Almost every day for the two weeks, a new bit of quarantine craziness would make buzzworthy headlines in the news, keeping the sport in the spotlight even when there was no play on court.

Some of the drama began before players and their teams had even touched down in Australia. Tennys Sandgren tested positive for COVID-19 prior to taking off, but was allowed on once he provided documentation that he'd contracted the virus more than a month ago. Dayana Yastremska had also tested positive, except for a banned substance, and decided to make the journey anyway despite being provisionally suspended from competition. She was eventually sent back.

And when team members on three different flights tested positive upon arrival in Melbourne, health authorities placed all those traveling with them in 'hard' quarantine—including 72 players.

Strict entry requirements in Australia had been partially relaxed to allow competitors and coaches a few hours of training at Melbourne Park, but those 72 players could now not leave their rooms at all.


Controversy erupted when it was revealed that Novak Djokovic, who was among the big names being kept in a plusher hotel in Adelaide, had sent a letter to tournament organizers about moving the affected players to private housing and improving conditions for those in regular quarantine. Frequently described as "demands" in Australian news, it prompted even more scrutiny of the decision to hold the tournament while the country largely prohibited travel.

In the meantime, players stuck in their room with little to do turned to social media. They complained about the food. They complained about the lack of air. And at least one found mice in the room.

Bernard Tomic's girlfriend also caused a stir, frequently recounting her personal hygiene travails.


Others had more fun, using the furniture to hit balls against, like Ons Jabeur. Pablo Cuevas decided to try some different careers.


And then there was this. Whatever this was...

Even once the two weeks were up, a hotel worker tested positive on the final day, sending 160 players back into quarantine for another day and delaying the start of warmup events. Paula Badosa, who had tested positive in quarantine, spent 21 days in a special hotel and almost couldn't play the Australian Open.

Despite the far-from-ideal preparation, players still produced a high level of tennis when play got underway, though the inactivity showed as three players retired with abdominal-type injuries in the men's draw and several others—including top seed and eventual champion Djokovic, Karolina Muchova, and Grigor Dimitrov—enduring similar problems during the second week of AO. But the tournament finished on schedule, fans returned for the final rounds, and the experiment was successful—if not likely to be repeated.

All in all it's difficult to decide which spectacle was more entertaining, the quarantine or the Australian Open?