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French star criticises ‘favouritism’ for top players ahead of Australian Open

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French star Jeremy Chardy has accused Tennis Australia of favouritism after it emerged that six top ranked players were to be sent to an exhibition tournament in Adelaide before the Australian Open.

The six players involved in the tournament will become part of an exclusive 50-person bubble ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on February 8.

The top three for each gender have been invited to Adelaide, thus far the names are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem on the men’s side, with Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka on the women’s.

It is reported that the stars will be staying in a 4½-star hotel in Adelaide city centre, which is far more luxurious than the accommodation on offer in Melbourne.

The players will also be allowed to take their entire camp to the courts, while their lower-ranked counterparts must make do with one person.

The tennis event, to take place at Adelaide’s Memorial Drive complex on Friday January 29, will be known as ‘A Day At The Drive’.

“This announcement for the top threes is a bit out of the blue, and it’s weird, to put it mildly,” Chardy told L’Equipe.

“They will even be able to benefit from a gym at the hotel and will be able to do their exercises, which will not count towards the five-hour quota. Everyone can go out. They will almost be able to live normally. Already they have a lot of privileges.

“If they can do everything more than you, it will not be the same preparation. And that’s weird for a sport where we’re all supposed to be on the same footing. If I was world number four I would be distraught.”

After the tournament was announced, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall described the news as a ‘real coup’ for South Australia.

“To have players of this calibre playing at Memorial Drive is an absolute win for local tennis fans and the South Australian public.”

The players bound for Adelaide will begin a mandatory 14-day period of quarantine from January 14.


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