Australian Open qualifying crisis after player told he had coronavirus during match

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Both Denis Kudla and Elliot Benchetrit were midway through their qualifying match for the Australian Open when the former was informed that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Kudlas was a set and a break up with the score at 5-3 in the second when he was told of the positive COVID-19 test result.

Despite being told of the news, the match continued with Kudla going on to win the game to close out the victory.

If the result in that game had gone the other way, Benchetrit would have progressed into the next round with the match declared a walkover in his favour.

The Moroccan summed up his mood with a post on Instagram following the bizarre circumstance of his match against Kudla.

“At 5-3, they got the result. So to sum up: if I’d won that game at 5-3 to make it 5-4, I’d have qualified for the second round,” Benchetrit said on Instagram.

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And in an interview with Tennis Majors, Benchetrit took aim at tournament officials for letting the match go ahead before test results were handed out.

“The concept of a test is to have the information up front, to not put the linespeople, the opponent or – quite simply – everyone the person might meet before or after their match, in danger,” he said.

“There also are lucky losers who are waiting for a forfeit to be able to play, who travelled there for nothing.

“The draw is compromised; there will be a player in the third round of qualifications having played just one match.

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“That’s also the problem.”

Tennis Australia confirmed Kudla’s positive test result in a statement, as well as Argentine Francisco Cerundolo.

“Two players have returned a positive COVID-19 test at AO men’s qualifying in Doha, Qatar. Both players have been withdrawn from the tournament and transferred to a quarantine hotel,” it said.

“Local health authorities, the tournament physician and medical team are monitoring each individual. Contact tracing is currently underway to notify close contacts.”

Cerundolo was due to face Spain’s Mario Vilella Martinez, but his test result came back before both players took to the court.

Kudla’s forced withdrawal means Australian Dane Sweeny will advance straight to the final round of qualifying in Doha.

Players are required to have six negative COVID-19 tests over a fortnight to play in Australia’s warm-up events before the first Grand Slam of the year.

The Australian Open is scheduled to start on February 8 with strict guidelines in place for those who test positive for coronavirus.

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