Djokovic, Nadal, Williams to take in Adelaide exho en route to Melbourne
Australia set to host a full month of top-flight tennis featuring seven events
The world’s top three men—Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem—and tennis’s top women—Nos 2 and 3 Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka and No11 Serena Williams—will undertake their compulsory two-weeks of quarantine ahead of the Australian Open swing in Adelaide.
More top players are scheduled to join a line-up for a two-session exhibition event at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide on Friday 29 January.
Titled A Day at the Drive, it is also possible that the women’s No1, Ashleigh Barty, who has not played since reaching the semis in her home Major last January, will be among the eight participants. And because she has not left her home country in almost a year, she does not face the rigours of two weeks of quarantine. Meanwhile, the international players will arrive in Adelaide from 14 January to undertake their mandatory quarantine.
Tennis Australia has also confirmed that Adelaide will host a WTA500 event in the week after the Open, completing a comprehensive line-up of events for fans comprising seven events across a complete month.
The string of men’s and women’s events displaced by the coronavirus pandemic, and listed initially as Melbourne 1 through to 5, have now been named to recognize key regions of Victoria.
The two men’s 250s will be named the Murray River Open and the Great Ocean Road Open, with the former featuring Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and Marin Cilic, and the latter headed by David Goffin, Karen Khachanov and Kevin Anderson.
The two pre-Open women’s tournaments, both at 500 level, are set to feature 49 of the top 50 players—give or take a couple of injury concerns in Abu Dhabi this week—with the top 32 split across the two tournaments to determine the 16 seeds. The draws between the two are yet to be announced, but will be called the Gippsland Trophy and the Yarra Valley Classic.
Even now, though, with the qualifying draws in Doha and Dubai soon to get under way, there is much to thrash out. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley outlined some of them in an interview for Tennis Channel.
New player hotels had to be sourced after complaints from residents at the Melbourne Westin, and extra charter flights—and it will take about 18 of them from several destinations around the world—have been sourced to transfer the players and their teams to Australia after one airline pulled out.
It has been a fiendish project to get off the ground, but not only do Tennis Australia and the Victoria authorities look set to pull off one of the biggest months in the tennis calendar, they are also intending to share the spoils with up to 75 percent fan capacity. Given the global Covid battles that continue everywhere else, that is some achievement.
Australian Open qualifying [ATP Doha; WTA Dubai]
Quarantine [Adelaide and Melbourne]
A Day at the Drive exho [Adelaide]
31 January-6 February
Great Ocean Road Open ATP [Melbourne]
Murray River Open ATP [Melbourne]
Gippsland Trophy WTA [Melbourne]
Yarra Valley Classic WTA [Melbourne]
ATP Cup [Melbourne]
Phillip Island WTA [Melbourne]
Adelaide International [WTA500]