Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said on Sunday he expected “decisions soon” on arrangements for the tournament after reports indicated he could be moved from his usual slot January, while Rafael Nadal urged players to be patient. Tiley originally wanted players to start arriving in Australia from mid-December so they could undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before playing the traditional pre-Grand Slam warm-up events. But that plan has been questioned by Victoria Premier Dan Andrews, especially as Melbourne only recently emerged from a months-long lockdown to wipe out a second wave of Covid-19 .
Andrews does not want players to arrive in early January, which would make it nearly impossible to hold the high-profile ATP Cup and other tournaments before the Open’s scheduled start on January 18.
It’s also unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine.
“Tennis Australia is doing everything in its power to finalize the tennis summer as soon as possible,” Tiley said in a statement.
“We are working closely with the Victorian Government on a plan that takes into account the needs of players, fans, our partners and staff, and which is a major benefit to the Victorian and Australian economy.
“We are continuing our urgent discussions with local health authorities regarding quarantine and biosecurity requirements and are confident that we will have decisions soon.”
The Melbourne Age newspaper said it understands the Australian Open will likely be delayed for a week or two, with February 1 becoming a possible start date.
But the Melbourne Herald Sun said it could be pushed back as far as early March.
“Tennis Australia is keenly aware of the need for certainty, but also aware of reaching a solution with the state government that keeps the whole community safe,” Tiley said.
Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Nadal said it was an unprecedented situation and urged players to be patient.
“We just have to be patient and accept the situation we are facing. It is difficult for everyone,” he said during the ATP final in London.
“We have to be flexible to understand the situation and find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”
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