Australian Open start date confirmed
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has confirmed the 2021 Australian Open has been postponed until February 8th.
The coronavirus pandemic ensured organising the grand slam tournament has been incredibly difficult for TA, and there were lingering concerns next year's event would be cancelled.
But as reported by News Corp, Tiley has informed players the Australian Open would commence in early February.
"It's taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on 8 February," Tiley said in an email communication.
"Players will have to quarantine for two weeks from 15 January, but the Victorian Government has agreed to special conditions for AO participants - agreeing that they need to be able to prepare for a Grand Slam.
"There will be strict conditions, but after quarantine, players are free to stay where they want, go where they want, play lead-in matches and then compete in an AO in front of significant crowds in a great Melbourne atmosphere for the first time in many months."
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Tiley originally wanted players to fly in from mid-December so they could undergo quarantine before playing traditional warm-up events.
But state premier Dan Andrews reportedly only wants players to arrive from early January - making it impossible to play the build-up events before the original start date.
On Wednesday, Andrews said he remained committed to holding the tournament, but safety was paramount in a state that only recently emerged from a lengthy lockdown to eliminate a second wave of COVID-19.
"Only the Australian Open is a tennis tournament in a city where it can likely be assumed that those players will bring the virus here," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
The February 8 start date could allow for a week of warm-up tournaments after the players emerge from quarantine, but the men's flagship ATP Cup would likely be among the build-up events that have to be scrapped in 2021.
Last month, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said it was an unprecedented situation and urged patience from players as they awaited confirmation.
"That is difficult for everyone," Nadal said at the ATP Finals in London.
"We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year."
- with AFP
Originally published as Australian Open start date confirmed