Johanna Konta sounds alarm over coronavirus threat to Australian Open | Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta shares the anxiety of everyone in tennis as desperate administrators and nervous politicians argue over the viability of holding the Australian Open in January, as the country continues to wrestle with coronavirus.

Plans to spend Christmas with her sister, Eva, in Sydney – where she was born 29 years ago – before heading for Melbourne for the start of the tournament on 18 January look like being shelved, and the prospect of playing any tennis is equally uncertain.

“For weeks on end we were working off a 14 December deadline [to arrive in Australia],” the British No 1 said, “especially for players who wanted to play the first week [of January]. All we know is that we are definitely not arriving then. What we don’t know is, is it definitely going to be the end of December? Will it be in January?”

The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has been locked in daily negotiations with Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia, and described the process as “incredibly complex”. His earlier refusal to allow players to even train while in quarantine is thought to be the sticking point, although Andrews said on Wednesday: “We’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open. It’s an event that all of us love, but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire.” The ATP insisted there were some “new challenges”. Or problems, as the rest of us call them.

Konta, speaking at an event sponsored by Ellesse, sympathises with their dilemma. “I think Tennis Australia are trying incredibly hard to make this work well for the players and everyone involved. I do feel for them. It’s very much out of their hands. It’s a government decision. From the perspective of it being a tennis event, it’s quite low on the agenda of a government. We will be at the mercy of how they decide, with all the things they have going on.”

She has spoken with her sister’s husband, Shane Mumford, an Australian rules footballer who is familiar with living in a sporting bubble there. “He was playing in Perth at one stage and they were in a quarantine base there.” Konta said. “During that period a lot of the families of the players were quarantining in Queensland and different areas. They had their own logistical nightmares in sport to try and get them going. Now they are back home in Sydney. Sydney is doing OK from my understanding.

“I am not fully up to speed with how the Australian government are doing things. To be honest we haven’t spoken too much about Covid with my sister. We have talked about anything but.”

The other practical hurdle is getting on a plane. “It’s not a cheap trip. We are waiting to see. That is why you didn’t want to book. You want to book but not have to change, otherwise you will be paying extortionate amounts. We have been told that more flights could become available, but then I have seen news reports that South Australia has had new cases, and flights being reduced again. Who knows?”She added that, while athletes like certainty, the pandemic has disrupted all normality. “If we can just play the tournaments in the weeks that they are set in, then that is already a big win. Our first tournament of 2021 is originally scheduled for 4 January, so arriving at the end of December is not too dissimilar to what it would be in a normal year.

“Except now we will be quarantining, training and probably playing in quarantine, I assume. If we can at least have that, then it’s already a big win. Once we get into shifting tournaments around, then it presents a lot more difficulty and it is more disruptive than this. Hopefully this is the only big change we will be faced with. But if 2020 has taught us anything it is to stay on your toes.”

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