Sport Australian Open: Decision on 2021 tournament expected ‘soon’

Australian Open: Decision on 2021 tournament expected ‘soon’

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Australian Open officials have urged tennis fans and media to be patient as the organisers of the tournament mull their options for 2021.

Chief Executive Craig Tiley revealed on Sunday that decisions regarding the tournament would be made ‘soon’.

Australian Open in Limbo

Reports emerged this week suggesting the tournament might be delayed as they seek a solution to Australia’s strict quarantine rules.

Former World Number One Rafael Nadal has also urged players to be patient.

Australian Open organisers had originally intended for players to start arriving in the country from mid-December so they could undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before playing traditional warm-up events ahead of the year’s first the Grand Slam.

That plan was thrown into doubt by Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews. Melbourne, the hosts of the Australian Open, has only recently emerged from a months-long lockdown to eliminate a second wave of the pandemic and is employing strict controls.

Andrews has pushed instead for players to arrive from early January, which would make it all but impossible to hold the high-profile team competition the ATP Cup and other tournaments before the scheduled start of the Aussie Open on 18 January.

It also remains unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine.

“Tennis Australia is doing everything we can to finalise the summer of tennis as soon as possible,” Tiley said in a statement.

“We are working closely with the Victorian government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff, and is of major benefit to the Victorian and Australian economy.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon.”

The Melbourne Age newspaper reported earlier this week that the Open would likely be delayed by one or two weeks, with 1 February identified as a possible start date. 

The Melbourne Herald Sun, on the other hand, claims it could be pushed back as far as early March.

“Tennis Australia is acutely aware of the need for certainty, but also conscious of reaching a solution with the state government that ensures the safety of the entire community,” said Tiley.

Nadal urges patience

Nadal, who won his 20th career Grand Slam at the delayed French Open, said it was an unprecedented situation and urged patience from players.

“We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing. That is difficult for everyone,” he 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.”

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