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Plans confirmed for ‘historic’ Australian Open

Organisers of the Australian Open have confirmed plans for next year’s rescheduled edition of the tennis grand slam, which will take place at Melbourne Park from February 8-21.

Qualifying will be held offshore, with the women’s event taking place in Dubai and the men’s tournament to be held in Doha from January 10-13. The Australian Open had initially been due to begin on January 18 but has now been pushed back by three weeks.

The total prize fund for the Australian Open will be Aus$71.5m (£40.5m/€44.1m/$53.9m), with players who exit in the first round to receive Aus$100,000, up 15 per cent from 2020. Prize money for qualifying and early rounds have also seen significant increases.

Tickets for the tournament will go on sale on Wednesday but organisers have not yet confirmed how many fans will be in attendance.

The men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) had announced last week that the Australian Open would be taking place later than planned amid the ongoing difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Players will arrive in Australia from January 15 and undertake mandatory quarantine for 14 days ahead of the tournament. The doubles and wheelchair tournaments will also be played as normal.

“This will be an historic Australian Open on so many levels,” tournament director Craig Tiley said. “For the first time in more than 100 years the Australian Open will start in February and we look forward to offering the players what we believe will be one of their best playing experiences in 2021.

“From the outset, ensuring players have the best possible preparation for the Australian Open, while at all times protecting the precious COVID-free environment that the Victorian community has built through incredible sacrifice and hard work over the past six months, has been paramount.

“It has taken eight months of working alongside government authorities, here in Victoria, nationally and interstate, to give us the opportunity to present an Australian Open that will play a major role in both the economic and psychological reinvigoration and rejuvenation of Melbourne and Victoria.”

The ATP confirmed last week that its ATP Cup tournament would be held in Melbourne from February 1-5, with the city to also host two ATP 250 events from January 31 to February 6, one of which will be the relocated Adelaide International.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has now confirmed the schedule for the first seven weeks of its 2021 calendar. The year will begin with the Abu Dhabi Open on January 5 before Australian Open qualifying begins on January 10.

Melbourne will then host two WTA 500 events from February 1 before the Australian Open gets underway a week later. A WTA 250 tournament will also be held in the second week of the Australian Open, enabling players to remain in Melbourne.

WTA 250 tournaments in Auckland and Shenzhen will not be held in 2021 but are scheduled to return to the calendar in 2022.

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