Just a couple of weeks after this year's Australian Open, the organizers had to start thinking about the next one, challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus had halted the tennis action for five months, forcing players to stay at their homes and stay away from the official circuit.
The WTA season is back in action, with the ATP to follow in two weeks, all under strict health measures and rules. The Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has been working hard with his team on providing the best conditions for competitors from all over the world.
They plan to prepare five "bio-secure bubbles" across the country (Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne) six weeks before the start of the event to allow the players to avoid restrictive quarantine measures.
The bubble should keep the players outside of their hotels for 14 days, like at other events, and the organizers want to see some 400,000 spectators at Melbourne Park during those two weeks.
Tennis Australia will provide safety conditions for the players at the Australian Open.
Taking care of the pre-Australian Open tournaments and the ATP Cup, Tiley intends to provide the most natural start of the season and help events in Auckland and Doha to host the competitors and help them prepare for the first Major of the season.
In the end, Tiley explained they are not forcing anyone to come down under and compete in Australia next January, leaving the players to make a decision. Six months ago, Novak Djokovic claimed the eighth Australian Open title, beating Dominic Thiem in an incredible final that lasted four hours, adding the 17th Major to his collection.
In the women's draw, the young American Sofia Kenin stunned the entire field to earn the first Major crown, beating Ashleigh Barty and Garbine Muguruza in the last two matches. "We're probably going to add some events leading into the Australian Open, and we are already talking to them.
We want to support Auckland in whatever way we possibly can, and we are talking about what those possibilities are. It's going to be really difficult if a player went to Auckland and then had to quarantine there, and then fly from Auckland to Australia and quarantine here.
It's hard. We want to protect Doha and Auckland to have a successful event. I think it's going to be difficult to be in many different global cities ahead of a Grand Slam. We have got to talk them through their safety, what's been done.
We are not forcing anyone to come, it's ultimately their choice while we are going to provide the best possible environment. If they get on the flight and come, we'll ensure their safety. If they choose to stay at home for their safety, we will respect that as well." Craig Tiley said.