If the dates of the Australian Open haven’t but been formalized, the fog is dissipating at the start of the season however there are nonetheless unknowns.
It’s an actual headache. How to start the 2021 season and, above all, plan the first quarter? Negotiations have multiplied in current weeks for the start of the season in Australia and past. Because there is an emergency.
What we all know (nearly)
If the holding of the Australian Open, alleged to be performed from February 8 to 21, has nonetheless not been formalized, it is now apparent that the first Grand Slam won’t happen on its traditional dates. In a doc despatched by the Australian Federation to all authorities (ATP, WTA and ITF), the native authorities demanded in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic that each one gamers and their workers only arrive in Melbourne between January 15 and 17 to carry out a quarantine “under bubble” which would last for all until January 31. The tournament would therefore take place from February 8 to 21 and not from January 18 to 31.
A women’s tournament planned before the Australian Open
It was in the air and it’s now official. We learned this weekend that Dubai will host the Australian Open qualifiers for five days (January 9-13). This decision confirms the demands of the State of Victoria not to see the tennis caravan land too early on its territory. And if it is not yet official, we now also know that the women’s circuit will begin its 2021 season in Abu Dhabi where a WTA 500 will be played at the same time as the qualifications for the Australian Open. This will be the only preparation tournament for the elite of the women’s circuit, before entering quarantine on the Australian continent. For men, nothing has been done yet, however. The tournament in Delray Beach, in the United States, would thus be the official tournament of the ATP circuit, before the start of quarantine in Australia.
What we still don’t know
Nothing is done yet. But on Australian soil, a 250 tournament in Melbourne, as well as the ATP Cup could take place at the end of quarantine and a week before the start of the Australian Open set on February 8. What about the rest of the first quarter of the season? The mystery remains unsolved. The world circuit being above all suspended on decisions concerning the organization of the first Masters 1000 of the season, supposed to be held from March 10 to 21 in Indian Wells. Due to a new wave of Covid-19 surging in California and a total containment of the population, doubts hang more than ever on the organization of the tournament. Because the organizers estimate that below 25% of spectators, it is not worth maintaining the tournament. They leave themselves until the end of December to make a final decision. Problem, to finalize the ATP and WTA calendar for February and March, the other tournaments would like to see it more clearly quickly… Because with the holding of the Australian Open in February, the calendar for the start of the season is now already turned upside down and the traditional tournament meetings in France in February (Montpellier and Marseille) are for example threatened.
French tournaments in February on hold
For now, the Marseille tournament, probably the most richly endowed ATP 250 of the season, has a very good cast with the winner of Bercy and the Masters Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas double title holder or the rising star Jannik Sinner. The organizers announced in a statement that the tournament will not take place on these initial dates (February 15 – 21) and that they are now targeting those of March 8 to 14. Provided that the Indian Wells tournament renounces its 2021 edition … Because if this Masters 1000 is maintained, there would only be two weeks between the Australian Open and the Californian event to stall a dozen tournaments (in particular the ATP 500 Dubai, Rotterdam, Acapulco, Rio priority or ATP 250 like Montpellier). A real puzzle. Suffice to say that the decisions of the Californian tournament are awaited firmly, just to see (finally) more clearly …