Covid-recovering Andy Murray is out of the Australian Open after running out of time to compete in Melbourne.
The Scot is devastated that he cannot make an emotional return Down Under next month.
Muzza had to fly either today or tomorrow to ensure he could observe the mandatory two-week hotel quarantine period before the Slam starts on Monday February 8.
Sources close to the former world No1 claim there are no physical or medical issues despite Murray catching coronavirus this month and undergoing a ten-day isolation at his Surrey mansion.
The 33-year-old, a five-time Aussie Open runner-up, had been in direct contact with tournament boss Craig Tiley but there was simply not enough time to get ready before the action starts.
Murray said: “I’m gutted to share that I won’t be flying out to Australia to compete at the Australian Open.
“We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work.
“I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”
It is claimed Tiley had been working round the clock to ensure Murray could get to the event in the best shape possible.
There are suggestions the two parties tried to reach a compromise on the length of quarantine involved, especially as he had recently recovered from the killer virus.
It is compulsory for travellers to OZ to spend a fortnight in a hotel room.
Had the stay been any shorter, if there had been any special dispensation, then it would not have gone down well with the rest of tennis field – with 72 PLAYERS already confined to their rooms for two weeks of hard lockdown after passengers on their charter flights returned positive tests.
There was also the added yet serious complication that if someone had tested positive on his flight, or if Murray had indeed caught Covid-19 again, then he would not have been allowed outside to train or exercise.
This would have hindered his chances of playing in the first Slam of the year.
Murray last played in Melbourne two years ago this month when he lost in five sets to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, days after an emotional press conference when he revealed he was close to retirement due to a persistent and painful hip injury.
Tennis pros have been sharing their quarantine experience on social media with Kazakh star Yulia Putintseva resorting to practicing rallies by hitting a ball against her hotel room wall.
And anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic had his list of demands for players – reportedly including fitness and training materials, better food, reduced isolation period and permission to see coaches – shut down.
He also asked for players to be moved to private houses with tennis courts and gym facilities but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews replied with a firm NO.