After months of speculation around the scheduling of the 2021 Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year has been postponed. In a statement, Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley, has confirmed that the tournament will start on February 8.
The coronavirus pandemic and the strict guidelines of the health authorities made it difficult for the organizers to host the Australian Open in January. As per the instructions, players will have to quarantine for two weeks from the date of arrival and will be allowed to do training each day during the period.
“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to hold the AO on 8 February. 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,” said Tiley, in email communication.
Keeping in mind the importance of preparation before the Grand Slam, the players will be free to move around and play matches after completion of the quarantine period. Originally the participants wanted to travel for the Australian Open by mid-December to have time to compete in the warm-up tournaments.
The state premier, Dan Andrews, wants the players to arrive in January, which would make it incredibly tough for them to take part in tournaments tuning up to the Grand Slam. The ATP Cup and the Adelaide International are likely to get canceled because of just a one week window prior to the Australian Open.
“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 defending champion Novak Djokovic will aim to win a record 9th title at the Australian Open, whereas arch-rival Rafael Nadal will eye to complete a Double Career Grand Slam.