Sylvain Bruneau, the coach of Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, said Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.
In a four-paragraph statement, Bruneau said he followed all safety protocols and procedures, tested negative within 72 hours of departure, and felt "perfectly fine" when boarding the plane in Abu Dhabi.
"I am extremely saddened and sorry for the consequences now on everyone’s shoulders sharing my flight," he said. "The rest of my team is negative and I sincerely hope that any further disruption is kept to a minimum."
Andreescu will now begin a 14-day hard quarantine at her hotel, her agent, Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy, told The Canadian Press in a text message.
Australian health authorities said two positive COVID-19 cases emerged from another charter flight to Melbourne from Los Angeles earlier Saturday. Those cases involved an aircrew member and a passenger who was not a player.
A total of 47 players from the two affected flights will not be allowed to practise until they’re medically cleared after the two-week period, Tennis Australia said. Original plans allowed for on-court training sessions in a bubble setting during the quarantine period.
Andreescu was planning to return at the Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Melbourne Summer Series, a warmup event ahead of the Australian Open. It will be her first competitive tournament in about 15 months.
In his statement, Bruneau said he respected and followed all COVID protocols and guidelines while in the Middle East.
"I have no idea how I might have contracted this virus," he said.
Bruneau, a longtime national coach with Tennis Canada’s women’s program, helped guide Andreescu during her breakout 2019 season.
Just 18 at the time, she won the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March of that year for her first career WTA Tour title. Andreescu won the Rogers Cup and US Open titles later that season, topping American legend Serena Williams in both finals.
Injuries, however, were a problem throughout the campaign and hampered her return plans in 2020. She eventually decided to take last season off and focus on coming back for the 2021 Australian swing.
A pair of WTA Tour 500 events — the Gippsland Trophy and Yarra Valley Classic — will run as part of the Melbourne Summer Series, with players being divided into the two events.
Given the short turnaround from the end of quarantine, it wasn’t immediately clear if Andreescu would still play that event or instead return at the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., hasn’t played a competitive match since a left knee injury forced her to retire from a match at the WTA Finals in October 2019.
She started the 2019 season ranked No. 152 in the world and closed the year at No. 5. The 20-year-old now holds the No. 7 position.
"The positive thing is that she is obviously extremely motivated," Bruneau told The Canadian Press in a recent interview. "She’s always motivated, so it’s not a change. But when you’re forced (off the court) and that’s your life, you want that back badly."
Andreescu has shown in the past that she can quickly get back to a high level of play after a break.
She played just one match in a four-month span leading up to the Rogers Cup in 2019. Andreescu was pushed from the start that year in Toronto, needing three sets in each of her first four victories en route to the title.
Bruneau, who served as Canada’s Fed Cup team captain from 2010-19, received the Jack Donohue coach of the year award from the Coaching Association of Canada in 2019.