Australian Open set for February start

The 2021 Australian Open grand slam is set to take place later than planned from February 8-21 after the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) announced an updated calendar for the start of next year.

The first grand slam of the year had originally been due to take place in Melbourne from January 18-31 but the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the ATP to revise its initial schedule.

Men’s qualifying for the Australian Open will take place from January 10-13 in Doha, with the dates of January 15-31 having been allocated for travel and a 14-day quarantine period for all players and support staff travelling to Melbourne for the tournament itself. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has not yet announced its early-season schedule.

The controlled environment will allow players to prepare for the ATP Cup, which will take place in Melbourne from February 1-5. Melbourne will also host two ATP 250 events from January 31 to February 6, one of which will act as the relocated Adelaide International.

Tennis Australia has not yet confirmed the new start date for its showpiece event. The governing body’s chief executive Craig Tiley has previously expressed hopes that as many as 400,000 fans could attend.

The 2020 Australian Open went ahead as planned before the pandemic forced the postponement of the French Open and the cancellation of Wimbledon. The US Open was held as planned but no fans were in attendance.

The 2021 ATP season begins with the Delray Beach Open in Florida and the Antalya Open in Turkey, with both events taking place from January 5-13. The ATP will confirm details of weeks 8-13 of the calendar in a separate announcement.

ATP 250 events that will not take place in 2021 due to the pandemic include the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand and the New York Open. The Tata Maharashtra Open in Pune, India is unable to stage in its scheduled February week and the Rio Open ATP 500 event will not take place as originally scheduled.

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.

“Together with the support of our tournament and player members, partners, and Tennis Australia, we have been able to adapt and create an exciting start to the season. Health and safety will continue to be paramount as we navigate the challenges ahead, and I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment to finding solutions to launch our 2021 season.”

Image: Phil Whitehouse/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size