MELBOURNE, Australia – On the positive side, Steve Johnson’s withdrawal Monday from the Australian Open isn’t because he came down with a case of the coronavirus.
We’re told the 31-year-old American is out for personal reasons.
Had Johnson come up with the positive test, another planeload of player would have had to leave the practice courts and quarantine. Johnson was on a flight from L.A. – but not the one that was grounded right from the get-go in terms of the practice privileges.
Johnson joins Joao Sousa, the Portuguese player who tested positive just before he was set to travel to Australia, on the recent sidelines.
Sousa has since tested negative and feels fine. But there just isn’t time for him to get here and quarantine for 14 days before the main event, so he had to withdraw.
Murray, Sousa couldn’t beat the clock
Andy Murray, who also came up positive for the coronavirus before he was to travel Down Under, officially gave up his quest to play the Australian Open Friday.
Murray was trying to work out a way to get Down Under. Obviously, if he wanted to, he could charter a plane. But there was no way for him to be able to take advantage of the “modified” quarantine. That exemption has allowed the players who weren’t close contacts on the three flights with positive cases to be out training and practicing five hours a day.
This option, per the BBC, was no longer available, not even to Murray. So it made no sense to fly down, sit in the hotel room for two weeks and try to play a best-of-five set match.
Doubles players in the lurch
The withdrawals are tough for the players Sousa and Johnson were planning in teaming up with for doubles.
There are not many “extra” players in Melbourne because of the limits on arrivals.
Sousa was set to play with Rohan Bopanna (his semi-regular partner from 2020, Denis Shapovalov, is already signed on with fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil).
Johnson was to play with fellow American Sam Querrey.