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Tennis Australia have revamped the lead-in schedule to this year’s Australian Open which will now feature a new WTA500 event.

Tennis Australia have revamped the lead-in schedule for the Australian Open to help the 72 players currently in hard lockdown prepare for the grand slam. 

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,” said Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley.

Included in those 72 players are grand slam winners Garbine Muguruza, Sloan Stephens, and Victoria Azarenka, who have not been able to leave their room during the 14-day quarantine. 

But in a commitment to ensuring those players in hard quarantine can compete on a level playing field at the Australian Open, Tennis Australia will now host an additional WTA500 event next week. 

The tournament is the first of several changes to the summer schedule and will be exclusively for those players undergoing a hard quarantine. 

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 prioritize them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.

Named after the spectacular mountain ranges situated to the west of Melbourne, the Grampians Trophy will feature a main draw of 28 players and will take place between 3 and 7 February at Melbourne Park. 

The Grampians Trophy will accompany the Gippsland Trophy and the Yarra Valley Classic, which will occur between 31 and 6 February. These tournaments will also both see some changes, with both their main draws being reduced.

This revised schedule comprising 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.

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Meanwhile, on the ATP Tour, all three lead-in ATP events will be postponed by 24 hours. 

Two ATP250 warm-up events were set to start on Sunday 31 January, but have both been pushed back to commence on 1 February instead. Both events will also feature an increased main draw of 56 singles players to give those in hard lockdown more opportunities to play.

The ATP Cup will also be pushed back by one day and will run between 2 and 6 February at both the Rod Laver and the John Cain Arenas. 

“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,” said ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi. 

And the tournament looks like it’ll have a pretty explosive start, with the ATP’s top four players all set to begin their 2021 seasons on the first day of the ATP Cup. 

The biggest match of the day will come in the evening at the Rod Laver Arena, with Australia’s Alex de Minaur taking on Spain’s Rafael Nadal. 

In form de Minaur could pick up where he left off in Antalya and give the 20-time grand slam champion a bit of a shock in the first game of his 2021 season. 

A Day at the Drive 

Meanwhile, this year’s Aussie summer of tennis is set to kick-off on Friday 29 January with an exhibition tournament in Adelaide. 

The tournament called A Day at the Drive will feature the world’s best players, including world No.1, Ashleigh Barty. 

She’ll make up a cohort of players who have won an impressive 67 grand slam titles between them.

The draw includes Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Jannik Sinner. 

Barty will take on world No.2 Simona Halep in the final match of the day, and it’s set to be the pick of the bunch. 

Do not miss this one.

Phillip Island Trophy and the Adelaide International

A fourth WTA250 event, the Phillip Island Trophy, will take place during the second week of the Australian Open between 13 and 19 February. 

The tournament will be held to give those eliminated from the grand slam a chance to compete in another event.

The Phillip Island Trophy will be held at Melbourne Park and will host 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams across the week. 

After the conclusion of the Australian Open, the summer of tennis will head back to Adelaide where the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre will host a WTA500 event that will close out this year’s summer of tennis. 

Fears were raised back in November that the Adelaide International would be cancelled in 2021, but it seems the world’s best women’s players will get another crack at a championship before they leave Australia. 

And the event is certainly shaping up to be a ripper with the main draw line up featuring a ton of big names! 

Make sure to check back here for coverage of all the events going on this summer and if you’re looking to buy or sell tickets, head over to our partner site, Tixel.com.au!

Featured Image: Australian Open 2015 by Visit Victoria // https://www.flickr.com/photos/49768282@N04/16351696616 //Licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Download permissions

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