‘Top players looking at a 2021 restart’

Craig Tiley believes top players may not compete at the US Open because they feel it's too soon to restart tennis

Craig Tiley (left) with Novak Djokovic

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley believes that most top players will not play in 2020 anymore and may get back on the court only before the Australian Open.

“I personally think that some of the top players will be in doubt (for the rest of 2020) and that’s simply because they may feel it’s too soon. It’s nothing against the US Open,” Tiley told Australian newspaper The Age.

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The US Open, which will be the first Grand Slam played since the tours were suspended in March, is scheduled for an August 31 start and will be played behind closed doors.

A lot of the players, including Simona Halep on the women’s side and defending champion Rafael Nadal on the men’s side, are almost certainly not travelling to America amid the global pandemic. Home favourite Serena Williams is the only top player to have said that she is keen on competing at the Open.

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“Most of them – Roger Federer included – is not playing the rest of the year and is looking to the Australian Open to launch 2021,” Tiley added.

“In fact all of them I’ve spoken to – there’s not one that hasn’t – are looking to the beginning of 2021 and the beginning of the new season as the new hope for tennis globally.

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“All of the top players, both on the women’s side and the men’s side, they look at Australia to possibly come here early in December.

“You’re going to be in an environment where you feel safe, the sun is shining and most of them are coming from the northern hemisphere where it will be the middle of winter … and they can play right through until the end of January.”

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2020 had begun with doubts over the Australian Open because of the bush fires in the country. But the Grand Slam event was played and it happens to be the only one in the year so far.

While French Open has been delayed to September, Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II.