The 2021 tennis season is just around the corner, we now what the ATP and WTA calendars will like in the first couple of months of the year with all roads leading to Melbourne.
Before a trip to Melbourne on the 8th of February for the first major of the year there is an opportunity to play in three continents. The WTA have an event beginning on the 5th of January, there have arranged for a WTA 500 to take place in Abu Dhabi where as the ATP have two ATP 250 events running in Delray Beach and Antayla to begin the year.
Melbourne Park will the destination for many but for the lucky 32 looking to come through qualifying in the mens and women’s draw they will have to their battle elsewhere.
Qualifying for the Australian Open will take place between the 10th and 13th of January, almost a month before the main competition begins but not in Australia. Doha will play host to the qualifying draws for the men and Dubai likewise for the women.
Players must arrive in Melbourne on chartered flights put on by Tennis Australia between the 14th and 16th of January. En-route they will be tested twice on flight and all players will stay at bio-secure hotels. Players will be able to bring two team members with them and will be tested around five times in the two week isolation.
During isolation the players will be able to go to Melbourne Park with no more than 5 hours of practice a day and will be shuttle to and from the home the Australian Open.
Competitions will begin at Melbourne Park on the 31st of January (ATP) and 1st of February (WTA). The ATP have put on two ATP 250 events in Melbourne called Melbourne 1 and Melbourne 2. The WTA have also put on two tournaments by the same name but these are WTA 500 events.
The ATP have also announced the ATP Cup will take place between the 1st of February and the 5th of February. The in-augurial ATP Cup saw 24 teams take part, this year it will just be 12.
All five tournaments across the WTA and ATP tours will take place simultaneously at Melbourne Park.
There will also be another opportunity for players on the WTA tour who lose early in Melbourne to stay and play as the WTA have scheduled a WTA 250 event at Melbourne Park during the second week of the Australian Open.
Fans will be back in stadiums, some of the warm-up events in Delray Beach will see fans with them operating at around 25%.
Tournament Director Craig Tiley announced ticket sales for the Australian Open will go on sale on the 23rd of December and are anticipating a 50% capacity and hope to bring in around 400,000 fans for the two weeks of the Australian Open.
Craig Tiley also told 9 News in Australia that “if there are any breaches of these conditions the player will be immediately removed from our country and be fined”.
It is a move which has come with some questions bringing in over 1000 players and their team members where Australian citizens cannot still enter the country from abroad at the moment.
Health Minister in Melbourne, Martin Foley has said – “this is not at the expense of returning Australians, this is a advance that provides the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Victorian’s.”
At this point there is no calendar published after the Australian Open with a number of options being discussed. It is known the ATP 500 in Rio de Janeiro will not go ahead until potentially later in the year and Indian Wells looks like being called off in March and potentially pushed to after the US Open.