AO Practice Pass: Novak Djokovic

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The ongoing coronavirus surge Down Under is further impacting the Australian Open, with Bernard Tomic testing positive and spectator capacity capped at 50 percent of additional ticket sales — plus the uncertainty around Novak Djokovic's status now set to extend for another day.

Tomic exited in the first round of qualifying, saying on court that he was under the weather and likely had the virus. Subsequent testing has now confirmed he has the illness.

"I still feel pretty sick. I feel worse mentally than physically because I really was motivated to make a comeback and show the Australian public that I can be the tennis player they expect," the 29-year-old Australian told the Melbourne Age.

During his straight-sets defeat, he also complained about the tournament's lack of testing.

"I will buy you dinner if I don’t test positive in three days," Tomic said to the umpire. "They are allowing players to come onto the court with rapid tests in their room. No official PCR testing."

Coming off court, Tomic announced he had been asked to go into isolation, adding, ''Feeling really sick, I’m now back in my hotel room."

It is not apparent whether this will lead to follow-up testing of players and officials at Melbourne Park. In a press conference the same day, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated that tests were now only required for those in the same household or with symptoms.

Said Tomic to chair umpire Aline Da Rocha Nocinto during his qualifying loss to Roman Safiullin, “I’ll buy you dinner if I don’t test positive in three days, otherwise you buy me dinner.”

Said Tomic to chair umpire Aline Da Rocha Nocinto during his qualifying loss to Roman Safiullin, “I’ll buy you dinner if I don’t test positive in three days, otherwise you buy me dinner.”

Meanwhile, further safety measures were announced for crowds by the government of Victoria, the state in which the Australian Open is played. All tickets sold will still be valid, but capacity will be capped at around 50 percent for sessions still under that level.

Other protocols, like crowd limits indoors and increased filtration, will also be implemented.

While there was no announcement from federal minister Alex Hawke on whether Djokovic would again be ordered to leave the country, the No.1's representatives told The Melbourne Age they would appeal such a decision.

Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against coronavirus but said he had recently had COVID-19, won a court hearing four days ago that found the government had acted improperly in not allowing him more time to explain why he should get to enter Australia with a medical exemption. He is still in Melbourne and was included in the draw for the men's singles.

Tomic's Australian campaign is done, but he insists his season is not.

"I know it might not seem like it but this is the start of my return. I'm going to do everything it takes to get back to the top," he said.

Nick Kyrgios also tested positive a few days ago and is aiming to complete his isolation and play the Australian Open.

More than 15 players have tested positive coming into the Aussie Open.