Spanish world No.13 Roberto Bautista Agut has apologised after he compared his Australian Open hotel quarantine experience to prison.
Bautista Agut criticised the Victorian government’s quarantine requirements in an interview with Israel’s Sport 5 television station, saying the lockdown was like being in “jail”.
“It’s the same (as being in prison), but with WiFi,” the 2019 Australian Open quarter-finalist said.
“These people have no idea about tennis and about practice courts and it’s a complete disaster.
“It’s not Tennis Australia. It’s the people from the government … I feel very, very tight and I cannot imagine staying two weeks like this.”
Bautista Agut apologised for the comments on Tuesday night, saying they were part of a private conversation that was given to the media without his knowledge or consent.
“I want to apologise to everyone who has been offended by the video,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram.
“Both my coach and I are following protocols designed by the Australian Government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way.
“I thank all the people who are making playing tennis again possible. As well as all those who fight against COVID-19 every day.
“The management that has been made in Australia to prevent the spread of the virus is admirable.”
There have been nine positive COVID-19 cases among the tennis players and support staff who arrived in Melbourne on charter flights, with 72 players placed in hotel quarantine.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka earlier implored her quarantined tennis colleagues to show some empathy for Victorians, who endured a long lockdown last year.
“This has been a very difficult time for a lot of us that did not expect to end up in the situation we are in today, myself included,” Azarenka posted on Twitter.
“I understand all the frustration and feeling of unfairness that has been coming and it is overwhelming.
“I would like to ask all my colleagues for cooperation, understanding and empathy for the local community that has been going through a lot of very demanding restrictions that they did not choose, but were forced to follow.”
By Rick Goodman in Melbourne