MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Erima Nishimura sure picked a decent day to bring her 9-year-old son, Yoshiharu, to Melbourne Park for the first time to see some tennis.
So much tennis: There were 89 matches on the schedule Wednesday, featuring Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Stan Wawrinka and eight other Grand Slam singles champions.
It’s all part of a six-tournament setup meant to help players who had to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine prepare in short order amid a pandemic for the Australian Open — yes, a half-dozen tournaments, and all held at one site, the venue where the year’s first Grand Slam event begins on Monday.
“I feel like things are coming back to somewhat normal,” said Sofia Kenin, the defending Australian Open champion, who won a three-setter Wednesday that was part of the Yarra Valley Classic. “It’s obviously nice to see a lot of matches.”
Things got more complicated later Wednesday, when the state government announced that a worker at one of the tournament’s three Melbourne quarantine hotels had tested positive for COVID-19. That meant any players, coaches or officials who quarantined at the Grand Hyatt would have to isolate until they returned a negative test for the virus.
Tennis Australia responded by calling off all play at the tuneup tournaments scheduled for Thursday.
Things had been going smoothly, with health authorities reporting earlier Wednesday that Melbourne hadn’t had any locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for weeks.
Nishimura, who is from Tokyo and moved to Melbourne 18 months ago, and Yoshiharu got to see Osaka, who collected one of her three Grand Slam trophies at Melbourne in 2019, beat Katie Boulter 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Margaret Court Arena.