The ATP has confirmed that next year’s Australian Open will begin on February 8, three weeks later than originally planned. The tournament was scheduled to take place between January 18-31 but has been pushed back due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Players will arrive in Melbourne on January 15 to start a 14-day period of isolation ahead of the tournament, in accordance with local coronavirus regulations.
The four-day qualifying event will now take place in Doha, Qatar and is set to begin on January 10.
Two tournaments – the relocated Adelaide International and an additional men’s – will start in Melbourne on before a condensed ATP Cup featuring teams begins the next day, concluding on .
The latter tournament was introduced last year and featured 24 competing nations playing across three Australian cities in ten days.
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has explained that the safety of players continues to be the top priority for organisers, with the pandemic still heavily influencing sport across the world.
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“The reconfigured calendar for the start of the 2021 season represents a huge collaborative effort across tennis, under challenging circumstances.,”
“Health and safety will continue to be paramount as we navigate the challenges ahead.”
The men’s singles tournament at last year’s Australian Open was won by Novak Djokovic, who defeated Dominic Thiem in a thrilling final, while American Sofia Kenin lifted the women’s trophy.
The 2020 edition was somewhat overshadowed by the impact of the devastating bushfires that ravaged Australia during the early stages of last year.
A hazy blanket of smoke engulfed Melbourne during the first day of qualifying, with delays and medical timeouts commonplace.
Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her match against Stefanie Voegele after she collapsed on the court with an aggressive coughing fit brought on by the poor air quality.
Looking ahead to this year’s event, six-time champion Roger Federer has revealed that he faces a ‘tight’ race to return to full fitness for the tournament as a result of his knee injury.
He underwent surgery twice in 2020 and has not played since January.
“The second knee operation was a huge dampener, but in the last six months there has been steady progress,” Federer revealed during an awards ceremony in Switzerland.
“Let’s see how the next two months will unfold. I’ve been doing a lot of physio and physical work lately, now let’s see how tennis is doing. It will be tight for the Australian Open.”