The Australian Open field has begun experiencing the effects of vaccination requirements and an international surge in coronavirus cases.

The biggest has been Rafael Nadal testing positive for coronavirus on his return from an exhibition in Abu Dhabi. The Spaniard is now in isolation for 10 days and was scheduled to arrive in Australia in nine days for some training before a warmup ATP 250 in Melbourne followed by the Australian Open.

Nadal, who was making his first on-court appearance since Washington, D.C., had also previously said he was still deciding if he would play the Australian Open as he returns from a foot injury.

On Tuesday, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic and world No. 10 Ons Jabeur—who like Nadal each traveled back from the Mubadala Tennis Championship—revealed they also contracted COVID-19. Both commented on experiencing notable symptoms despite being fully vaccinated.



Dominic Thiem has withdrawn with illness from the ATP Cup and ATP 250 event in Sydney, though the Austrian said it was not COVID-related. Thiem has not played since the grass event at Mallorca where he injured his wrist, requiring surgery. Thiem aims to now return at the Australian Open, though he will not have played any events coming into the Grand Slam competition.

In addition, Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva has announced she will not be eligible to play the Australian swing because she has received the 'Sputnik V' vaccination used in Russia but not currently recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) or Australia.


There are also two players so far who are known publicly to have declined vaccination: France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Australian Olivia Gadecki, who was to receive a wild card.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley recently said that he expects 95 percent of the player field to be vaccinated by the Australian Open—sharply higher than 50 percent some weeks ago, but still would produce more withdrawals.

Vaccinations are required by the federal government to enter Australia and by the Victoria government for Australian Open competitors.

Any medical exemptions given would be strict and evaluated independently by a pair of government panels, organizers have indicated.


On top of that, Hungary's Timea Babos will not play the event because of concerns around safety protocols for players testing positive and those who have had contact with positives. These have not been officially announced, but several dozen players were placed in hard quarantine before this season's Australian Open because they were contacts of positives.

As of Tuesday, players are not required to quarantine upon entering Australia this time around.