It looks like the ATP and WTA tours could be staying down under for longer than we first thought.
After both organisations released the first seven weeks of their 2021 tournament schedules, Tennis Australia are liaising with the tours to host a follow-up event to the Australian Open.
The delayed grand slam is set to take place between the 8 and 21 February 2021.Embed from Getty Images
Concerns were raised last month over how a postponed Australian Open could impact tournaments set to take place in its wake.
But it appears the ATP and WTA tours have the outline of a plan in place, with Asia rumoured to be the next stop for the tours in March.
“We haven’t finalised week eight, but we will in probably the next 24 to 48 hours,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.
“The plan is to try and have at least a women’s event – maybe a men’s and women’s event – but at least a women’s event in week eight.”
“I don’t know where we will do that yet. It is something we are working through. There is a lot of work still to be done on that. It is open right now.”
Tiley also suggested that these events could be hosted outside of Melbourne, with Adelaide’s Memorial Drive tennis complex a favourite to host an event.
Tennis Australia are also planning to host an all-Australian warm-up tournament in Sydney after Christmas.
The tournament would be for Australian players not travelling to compete in the first WTA and ATP tournaments of the year in the Middle East.Embed from Getty Images
Although both could be problematic for Tennis Australia, who are closely monitoring a sudden spike in coronavirus cases arising along Sydney’s northern beaches.
“We are hosting an Australian Closed Championships in Sydney after Christmas, obviously pending what happens with the current spread (of coronavirus) there,” Tiley said.
“The Australian Closed Championships would be an event where the winner is not guaranteed a wildcard, but from that event, the wildcard would be selected.”
“We have to do it because players pretty soon will have to travel to the Middle East to play.”
But with the threat of border restrictions looming again, hosting the Australian Closed Championships outside of Victoria may be too much of a gamble.Embed from Getty Images
Tiley spoke on his original decision to host all of this summer’s tennis events in Victoria this year, stating, “In hindsight, I think it has been one of the best decisions we made, early, because we managed everyone’s expectations.”
“We did a lot of work with each state on what the quarantine environment could be and where we got stuck was that each environment was going to be a bit different.”
“How could we guarantee the borders were not going to be shut? We saw that happen with South Australia a couple of weeks ago. We can see what is happening in Sydney.”
“It was not a decision we took lightly because part of the essence of our sport is in each city, but this is the only facility in Australia that can host the grand slam.”
Although Tiley admitted, a follow-up event to the grand slam could still feasibly take place outside of Victoria.
“It doesn’t mean we may not be able to go from Melbourne to other cities, which is what we are looking at doing (after the Australian Open).”
“This is going to be a year where it is going to be different.”
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