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'Not the case': Tennis great rubbishes Australian Open reports

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, 2020 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic poses with his trophy.
Recent reports have raised the possibility of the 2021 Australian Open being cancelled. Pic: Getty

Aussie tennis legend Todd Woodbridge insists the first grand slam of 2021 will go ahead, despite worrying reports to the contrary.

Woodbridge has eased concerns that the Australian Open could be cancelled, following robust discussions between organisers and the Victorian government.

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While the original start date for the grand slam tournament will inevitably be pushed back from mid-January, Woodbridge insists it will definitely not be cancelled.

"I can tell you that that is most definitely not the case. We are going to have an Australian Open for sure, so that was relieving in itself," he told 2GB's Wide World of Sports Radio.

"We can pretty much look towards the beginning of February. We're not, now with quarantine, going to be able to get players on the court for an Australian Open in the dates that were set down originally."

Woodbridge's comments come after reports from France’s L’Equipe newspaper that Australian Open organisers have settled on a start date of February 8 for the year's opening grand slam.

If confirmed, it would be three weeks later than the original start date scheduled for the major tournament.

February 1 had previously firmed as the most likely date for the Australian Open to kick off, however, discussions have been ongoing between organisers and the Victorian government.

Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge is seen here talking to media.
Todd Woodbridge insists the Australia Open will go ahead, just later than first planned. Pic: Getty

Tournament organisers stressed over the weekend that nothing regarding the quarantine for players arriving in the country for the Grand Slam had yet been decided despite local media reports that competitors would be able to train while in self-isolation.

A Tennis Australia spokesperson told Reuters that organisers were still waiting for approvals from the Victoria state government for all details on the year's first Grand Slam, including those relating to practice during quarantine.

Organisers have been in lengthy discussions with authorities over the COVID-19 protocols to be established for those arriving in Australia ahead of the Melbourne Park tournament, which was originally slated to run from January 18-31.

Men's number one Novak Djokovic recently called on the authorities to ensure players are allowed to train during quarantine, while Russia's Daniil Medvedev said it would be "dangerous" to be confined to a hotel room for two weeks and then go straight into a Grand Slam.

Australian Open competitors would likely enter a bio-security bubble like those used for the US Open and French Open.

ATP Cup in danger of being scrapped

One event likely to suffer from the Australian Open's February start date is the ATP Cup, which Woodbridge predicts will have to be scrapped.

A 24-country competition, the ATP Cup is slated to be held across Sydney, Brisbane and Perth from January 1 to January 10.

"I don't see that it is possible to have the ATP Cup now," he said.

"It was 24 nations with a chance to play. We're now trying to bring everybody in. They need a tournament to play and you can't get everybody match practice in that week leading into the Australian Open.

"So I think we're going to have to look at a generalised tournament and maybe some different levels of tournament too so that everyone can get some match play before the Australian Open."

America successfully moved the Cincinnati Open tournament so it was staged in New York, just before the US Open got underway.

Woodbridge says Melbourne can make the same approach work for the Australian Open.

"I think we're looking at something very similar to what happened at the US Open where they moved the Cincinnati tournament into the New York bubble. They played it there and the week following was the US Open."

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