The strict quarantine rules in Australia have led to a flurry of tournaments in the lead up to the first major of the season. Six tournaments — three WTA, two ATP event and the ATP Cup– will all be held within the space of one week at the Melbourne Park.
The lead-in week has been revamped to help give the 72 players in the 14-day hard lockdown the best possible preparation and training opportunities.
Following extensive consultation between the players and the Tours, Tennis Australia has designed a new schedule, taking into account the limited time many players have had to prepare.
The Murray River Open, the Great Ocean Road Open and the ATP Cup will be pushed back by 24 hours. The two ATP 250 events will commence on Monday 1 February, each featuring an increased singles main draw size of 56, while the ATP Cup will start on Tuesday 2 February.
“This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare. We also will prioritise them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.”
ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi also added, “Our number one goal with Tennis Australia and the WTA was to be as fair as possible to the players coming out of a hard quarantine.
“The extra 24 hours before the first ATP Tour events together with priority over practice and preparation will help. We are eager to start what I am sure will be a fantastic summer of tennis in Melbourne in front of our great Australian fans.”
There will now be three WTA 500 events – the two originally planned from Sunday 31 January to Saturday 6 February, with slightly reduced draw sizes. A third event, for those players who have been unable to train, will commence on Wednesday 3 and finish on Sunday 7 February.
“This revised schedule comprised of three WTA 500 events in the week leading into the upcoming Australian Open will allow for our athletes coming out of the respected quarantine period to properly focus on their preparation in a return to competition,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said.