FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Second Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 22, 2020. Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek in action during the match against Serena Williams from the U.S. REUTERS/Issei Kato
February 8, 2021
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – After a long-haul flight from Abu Dhabi and two weeks quarantine in Melbourne, Tamara Zidansek’s Australian Open singles tournament lasted just 81 minutes when the Slovenian was bundled out in the first round on Monday.
Still, the A$100,000 ($77,000) in prizemoney for first-up losers made it worth the journey and helped ease the disappointment of a 6-2 7-5 loss to Kazakh Zarina Diyas.
“Of course I’ll take it,” world number 91 Zidansek, one of the first players eliminated on day one, told Reuters at Melbourne Park.
“I think it’s worth doing the 14-day quarantine when you come here.
“It’s still a really high prizemoney to get. I’m 22-years-old. I don’t come from a background that’s rich. I come from a small country, I never got a lot of sponsors or anything.
“I’m glad that I’m here and I can get what I get.”
The prizemoney for first round losers went up from A$90,000 in 2020.
Zidansek was one of some 500 players, coaches and officials who needed to isolate and get tested after a worker at their quarantine hotel contracted COVID-19.
It was more of an inconvenience than a scare for Zidansek, and the whole contingent were cleared and allowed to resume in the warmup tournaments after play was suspended on Thursday.
Zidansek, who is also playing the doubles at Melbourne Park and the WTA tournament that follows the Australian Open, is in no rush to leave a country where community transmission of COVID-19 is rare and most social restrictions have been eased.
“You can take a day off maybe and go do something you wouldn’t normally do,” said Zidansek, who has never made it past the second round of the singles in Melbourne.
“I would like to go to the movies because we’re not able to do that at home. Maybe I’ll do that.”
($1 = 1.3029 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)