Australian Open 2021: Delayed tournament to start on 8 February

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By David Awopetu

Men’s tennis’ governing body, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), has announced the Australian Open will start on 8 February, three weeks later than planned.

Tennis Australia and the Victorian and Australian governments are yet to confirm, but the ATP on Thursday revealed its revised 2021 calendar with the Melbourne Park grand slam front and centre of pandemic-forced shake-up.

Originally due to start on January 18, players will now arrive in Australia from January 15 to serve two weeks of quarantine, many of them coming from countries when the pandemic is still raging.

Earlier reports said they would have to remain at designated hotels but would be allowed to practise and exercise for up to five hours a day, shuttled between their accommodation and Melbourne Park.

The ATP said men’s qualifiers for the Grand Slam would be held from 10-13 January in Doha, before players and limited support staff travel to Australia.

A slimmed-down, 12-team ATP Cup, the relocated Adelaide International, and an ATP 250 tournament will all be held in Melbourne ahead of the Slam which is now scheduled from 8-21 February.

There was no word on where the women will play their qualifiers, with the WTA yet to announce its early-season schedule. But WTA tournaments are also expected to be played in Melbourne before the Open.

ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi said “The reconfigured calendar for the start of the 2021 season represents a huge collaborative effort across tennis, under challenging circumstances.”

He added that “Health and safety will continue to be paramount as we navigate the challenges ahead.”

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