Australian Open likely in February


Australian Open postponed until beginning of February 2021 Image: Melbourne and Olympic Parks

With less than a month to go for 2021 to ring in, the season’s first Grand Slam tournamentAustralian Open – which was supposed to begin on January 18th next year will now likely commence three weeks later on February 8th, 2021. This is as per media reports.

The Australian Open is a tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

The above information was obtained from a note sent to players from Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley. Tiley has, however, maintained that updated information about the Australian Open will be released imminently, with this report being the strongest signal yet.

Tennis Australia is the governing body for the sport of tennis in Australia. The organization exists to promote tennis and to conduct domestic and international tournaments on behalf of Australia, including the Australian Open and the Davis Cup for the Australian Davis Cup Team.

Presently, the Australian Government is not allowing tennis players to enter the country in December. The quarantine period could jeopardize Aussie tune-up events.

Grand Slam details:

  • Players will arrive in Melbourne between January 15th and January 17th, on chartered flights paid for by Tennis Australia, with a mandated 14-day quarantine beginning only after the last player arrives;
  • Players can train during the quarantine, with only one other player, if they receive a negative COVID-19 test on the second day of the quarantine. They can train with a maximum of four players/coaches after receiving a third negative test on the eighth day of quarantine;
  • In total, each player will be tested five times during the quarantine period, on days 1, 3, 7, 10 and 14;
  • Players may only leave their hotels for a maximum of five hours per day -up to two hours on a court, up to two hours in a gym, and up to one hour eating at the tournament site. Player travel is restricted to Melbourne Park and the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre in Melbourne;
  • Players may only bring one coach. Tennis Australia will also pick up the cost of entourage travel and accommodation; and
  • The tournament will pay full prize money, with possible redistribution of earnings to increase early-round purses.

The picture is still hazy as regards fan capacity given the fact that COVID-19 still continues to rule the roost in major countries of the world.

“A February 1st start date would not have allowed any matches (health authorities rules out matches in the bubble) and also would have been unfair to players who may get infected during quarantine – as it would have ruled them out of the Australian Open,” Tiley further stated in the player note.

WTA season

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is planning to start the 2021 season in the first week of January outside Australia before the players travel to Melbourne for quarantine ahead of the Grand Slam, women’s tour Chief Steve Simon told mediapersons.

“We’re looking right now at hopefully close to finalizing in the next week or so the ability to stage some events in the week of January 4th to start the year,” he told mediapersons in a telephonic conversation from the United States.

The Women’s Tennis Association is the principal organizing body of women’s professional tennis. It governs the WTA Tour which is the worldwide professional tennis tour for women and was founded to create a better future for women’s tennis.

Simon did not provide details of where the tour might start. Normally, both the WTA and the men’s ATP professional tours kick off their seasons in Australia, and in 2020 the WTA had events in Brisbane (Australia), Shenzen (China) and Auckland (New Zealand) starting on January 6th.

But, it is unlikely to take place in either China or New Zealand which, like Australia, have strict COVID-19 protocols in place for international arrivals to curb the risk of imported COVID-19 cases.

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