The Australian Open was pushed again to February Eight on Thursday after weeks of negotiations as coronavirus disruption hits a second Grand Slam tennis season. Men’s qualifiers will likely be held in Doha however Australia will host a collection of build-up occasions together with the flagship ATP Cup, the lads’s ATP Tour mentioned, asserting its early 2021 schedule.
The three-week delay to the season’s opening Grand Slam comes after this 12 months’s Wimbledon was cancelled — for the primary time since World War II — the French Open was postponed and the US Open was performed behind closed doorways.
Fans are anticipated to be allowed at Melbourne Park, the match’s venue, because the coronavirus is below management in Australia, however gamers might want to endure 14 days of quarantine.
Confirmation of the February 8-21 dates follows protracted talks between Tennis Australia and state authorities in Melbourne, which emerged from a months-long lockdown in October following a second wave of Covid-19.
Originally resulting from begin on January 18, gamers will now arrive in Australia from January 15 to serve two weeks in a bio-secure bubble, lots of them coming from nations the place the pandemic remains to be raging.
Earlier experiences mentioned they might keep at designated motels however could be allowed to practise and train for as much as 5 hours a day, shuttled between their lodging and Melbourne Park.
There was no fast affirmation of the preparations from Tennis Australia.
The ATP mentioned males’s qualifiers for the Grand Slam could be held from January 10-13 in Doha, earlier than gamers and restricted help employees journey to Australia.
A slimmed-down, 12-team ATP Cup, the relocated Adelaide International, and an ATP 250 match will all be held in Melbourne forward of the Slam which is now scheduled from February 8-21.
There was no phrase on the place the ladies will play their qualifiers, with the WTA but to announce its early-season schedule. But WTA tournaments are additionally anticipated to be performed in Melbourne earlier than the Open.
– ‘Health and security paramount’ –
“The reconfigured calendar for the start of the 2021 season represents a huge collaborative effort across tennis, under challenging circumstances,” mentioned ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
“Health and safety will continue to be paramount as we navigate the challenges ahead, and I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment to finding solutions to launch our 2021 season,” he added.
World primary Novak Djokovic is predicted to be again and aiming for a ninth Australian Open title after overcoming Austria’s Dominic Thiem in a five-set closing earlier this 12 months.
But there’s doubt over Swiss nice Roger Federer, 39, who revealed this week he was in a “race against time” to be match as his restoration from two rounds of knee surgical procedure takes longer than anticipated.
American Sofia Kenin is predicted to defend her maiden Grand Slam crown after defeating Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in three units on this 12 months’s ladies’s closing.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley had been hoping that Melbourne Park crowds could be between 25 and 50 % of regular capability.
But with coronavirus now below management in Australia there are hopes that quantity may very well be raised, if there aren’t any extra group transmissions of Covid-19.
The males’s season will begin with the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open alongside a brand new single-year ATP 250 occasion in Antalya, Turkey earlier than shifting to Doha for the Australian Open qualifying.
Details of weeks eight-13 will likely be introduced individually, the ATP mentioned, however the clay-court season from week 14 is because of stay unchanged right now.
Events cancelled in 2021 as a result of pandemic embody the ASB Classic in Auckland and the New York Open, whereas the Maharashtra Open in India is below a cloud.
The Rio Open is not going to happen as initially scheduled, with various dates being thought-about.
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