Melbourne: Former world number one Andy Murray says he’s furious at missing the Australian Open and believes he became infected with COVID-19 at the National Tennis Centre in London.
The three-time Grand Slam winner, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, was unable to travel to Australia after recording a positive test over the Christmas period.
Murray revealed he was “pretty ill” and had passed the virus onto his wife Kim and their three young children.
“I was pissed off that I missed the tournament and wasn’t able to go to Australia from a personal perspective,” he told British media from Italy, where he is instead preparing for his return at a second-tier Challenger event.
“But then the wider, more important point is that it’s not just about a tennis tournament when I am going back and giving the virus to all of my family and infecting them. I care about that a lot.”
— LTA (@the_LTA) February 5, 2021
The former Wimbledon and US Open champion said he was convinced he picked up the virus at the National Tennis Centre, raising questions about Covid protocols at a facility where most of Britain’s elite tennis players trained during the pandemic.
“I couldn’t pick it up anywhere else because I hadn’t left my house or the NTC for 10 weeks, and then there were some positive cases there,” said Murray.
“I certainly couldn’t have picked it up from my family because they were all negative.”
British number one Dan Evans, who won the Murray River Open in Melbourne on Sunday, said he had been nervous about visiting the centre before leaving for Australia.
“I mean, it was — obviously the virus got into the centre somehow,” he said.
“You know, I think as with anything, people relax a bit because I don’t think there was really any cases there. I think Christmas period and the New Year period maybe slackened a little bit.”
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) insisted in a statement that “stringent and appropriate restrictions” had been applied.
“We have consistently applied the stringent and appropriate restrictions, testing and other protocols for elite training centres in line with government guidance,” it said.
“Our protocols are regularly communicated to everyone using the venue and we expect them to be adhered to in the player lounge and all other areas of the building.”
Murray had been given a wildcard entry to the Australian Open as he looked to make his first appearance in Melbourne since 2019, when he revealed the extent of a right hip problems and raised the possibility of retiring.