By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A frustrated Tennys Sandgren said his preparation for the Australian Open was a "joke" and that undergoing hard quarantine in the leadup gave him no chance against Alex De Minaur as he crashed out of the first round in three sets on Tuesday.
Former quarter-finalist Sandgren was among the 72 players unable to train during their 14-day quarantine before the Grand Slam because they were deemed close contacts to people who tested positive for COVID-19 on their flights into Australia.
Other players were able to train for up to five hours a day, including Australian De Minaur, who romped to a 7-5 6-1 6-1 win over the American.
"How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that, that calibre, when you can't play tennis?" Sandgren told reporters.
"I mean, it's just kind of a joke of preparation. What are you going to do?"
"I lost my calluses, so my hands were blistering playing an hour of tennis today in humid conditions. Like, stupid."
It was an eventful month for Sandgren, who was granted special permission to board a chartered flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne despite testing positive for the new coronavirus earlier that week.
Sandgren said on social media he had tested positive in November, and the later positive result was then reclassified as "viral shedding" from a historical infection.
Sandgren also caused a stir on social media during his match against De Minaur as he stepped forward to hammer a shot into the Australian's body when he might have pushed an easy winner into an open court.
"That's just frustration from Sandgren, taking it out," four-times Grand Slam champion Jim Courier said in commentary for Channel Nine.
"I'm not sure Alex would have seen the humour in that one."
Former women's champion Angelique Kerber and Spain's Paula Badosa, the only player to test positive for COVID-19, also blamed inadequate preparations for their first round exits.
"I don't know, I wouldn't say the whole tournament is a joke, but for some players it's not feasible," said Sandgren.
"It's just not feasible."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)