Elliot Benchetrit may now have to serve out a seven-day quarantine

Credit: REUTERS

France’s Elliot Benchetrit had reason to feel hard done-by on Monday, after he was eliminated from the first round of Australian Open qualifying by a man who had already tested positive for Covid-19.

Denis Kudla, of the USA, had been tested on Sunday, but the positive result only came back as he was on the verge of completing a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

According to Benchetrit’s account, the officials arrived at courtside during the final game of the match – and would have intervened to call it off, except that Kudla completed his victory almost at once.

The unfortunate timing means that neither man can move on to the second round of qualifying.

As a result, 19-year-old Australian Dane Sweeny – the world No 794, who scored an upset win over Romania’s Marius Copil – will receive a walkover into the final round.

Even more galling for Benchetrit, he could yet be instructed to serve out a seven-day quarantine at his hotel in Dubai, as one of Kudla’s close contacts.

Benchetrit has suggested that Kudla had probably contracted the virus after arriving in Dubai, as all players had already completed two Covid tests successfully before his third came up positive. He also criticised arrangements at the player hotel.

“We use the service lifts for the staff, so as not to cross the clients,” Benchetrit said. “And quite a few players suspect the hotel staff, who are not tested as regularly as we are, of being the cause of the contamination of some players.”