Australian Open hopefuls face three-week seclusion before Melbourne grand slam

Ian Parker, PA
·3-min read

Players will need to travel to Australia three weeks ahead of the Australian Open in order to spend two weeks in quarantine and take part in warm-up tournaments under plans revealed on Saturday.

The first grand slam of 2021 – which has a purse of £40million – will begin in Melbourne on February 8, but players must arrive in the country by mid-January in order to clear quarantine amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Players will stay in selected hotels and will be allowed to train during the quarantine period, with a biosecure environment to be set up.

The WTA has announced two WTA 500 tournaments will be staged at Melbourne Park from January 31 to February 7 as warm-up events, while the ATP will move the Adelaide International to the city and also host an ATP 250 Tournament at the same time.

Tournament director Clive Tiley said charter flights would be arranged for players on January 15 and 16, and that there would be a “high level of security” around the quarantine arrangements to ensure the safety of those taking part.

“Entries close early next week and at this point we have a commitment from every single player in the world to be here in Australia,” he said.

“We are chartering flights from around the world so the players, before they get on any flight, will have to test negative within a 48-hour window.

“When they arrive they will receive another test which will have to be negative, and they’ll remain in their hotel rooms until they have those two negative tests.

Wimbledon 2019 – Day Three – The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Sofia Kenin won the women’s title in Melbourne last year (Steven Paston/PA)

“Then it’s a modified quarantine environment, a high level of security. They will be transported from the hotels which will be players-only to the courts for no more than five hours a day.

“For 14 days they will only be able to go between the hotel room and the courts in a secure environemnt. There will be frequent tests during that two-week period.”

Players will be split into cohorts, with one designated practice partner during the first week and an increased group size in the second.

Tiley added that it was vital that players be permitted to train while still observing quarantine.

“We would not be in a position to run the Australian Open if players had to stay in their hotel room for two weeks,” he said.

“They would not be prepared and we would not get the field of play that we are anticipating, so this a modifed environment. After the first week we increase the size of the cohort by a couple more so it gives them a chance to hit with someone a bit different and be fully prepared.”

Qualifying for the tournament will take place outside of Australia with a women’s event in Dubai and a men’s event in Doha from January 10-13, reducing the number of players travelling to the country.

The Australian Open will include singles, doubles and wheelchair competitions, though the junior event has been postponed until later in the year.

The WTA has announced its season will begin with the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open, a WTA 500 level event, from January 5-13.