Aussie player slams Roger Federer's 'selfish' virus stance

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Roger Federer speaks to the media at the Australian Open in January. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Australian tennis player Andrew Harris has branded Roger Federer ‘selfish’ over the Swiss legend’s recent comments about playing without fans.

Earlier this week Federer said he’d prefer to delay the return of professional tennis as opposed to playing events (particularly grand slams) without crowds.

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French and US Open officials have both flagged the possibility of barring fans from the upcoming grand slams as the sport attempts to get back underway amid the coronavirus crisis.

“I can’t imagine competing in an empty stadium, I hope it never happens,” Federer said during a video call with Brazilian legend Gustavo Kuerten.

“As much as when we train there are no people, competing is very different.

“It is clear that the possibility is feasible. But I think we could wait for the appropriate moment to return in the best conditions, with at least a third of the stadium full or half in.

“It would be very difficult for me to play major tournaments behind closed doors.”

Federer cops backlash from Aussie player

Federer’s sentiments were echoed by women’s champion Petra Kvitova, however the idea hasn’t gone down well with some of the lower-ranked players on tour.

While Federer can undoubtedly survive the financial hit that comes with not playing tennis, others can’t.

One of those players is Australia’s Harris - the World No.204.

Commenting on a social media post about Federer’s comments on Wednesday, the 26-year-old said: “How about the Tour returns when its appropriately safe to do so and those players struggling can earn some income.”

“Standard selfishness from Roger Federer.”

Harris appeared to delete the initial tweet before making similar comments in response to a fan.

“The tour should resume as soon as it is appropriately safe to do so - as I mentioned in my original tweet,” he wrote.

“If that means resuming without fans in the meantime, then that is what should happen.

“Not because Roger doesn’t want to play in front of no fans.”

Petra Kvitova says cancel grand slams

Two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova said on Monday she would prefer grand slams did not take place as opposed to playing them behind closed doors.

“I have my age and of course I would like to play another grand slam, but if it's like this, I'd rather cancel them,” Kvitova said.

“Playing a grand slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn't look nice to me and the Grand Slam doesn't deserve it.”

Andrew Harris in action at the 2020 Australian Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

This year's French Open has been moved to September, Wimbledon has been cancelled and the WTA tour will not resume until at least July 20 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This week’s competition in Prague has eight men and eight women in separate draws but there will be no spectators or handshakes.

There will be referees and ball boys at the tournament, but they will not hand towels to those on the court.

“It's not ethical not to shake hands and just give a racquet bump, I think that's the most unpleasant thing I'm in for,” Kvitova said.

with agencies