Organisers of the Australian Open are hopeful that Roger Federer will be fit to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2021.
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident that all of the world’s top players will take part in the tournament including Federer who missed both the US Open and Roland Garros.
Federer set for Australian Open
The only Grand Slam to escape the effects of the coronavirus in 2020 could not avoid being impacted in 2021 with the tournament pushed back to ensure players could compete a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
Federer has admitted that he faces a race against time to be fit for the tournament as he recovers from a knee injury, however the change fo schedule may just enable him to pursue a 21st Grand Slam title.
“Every player, including Roger, has made a commitment to travel to Melbourne to play,” he said after confirming the new start date on Saturday.
“We have been in touch with him and his team and it’s been three days now, he’s hit for the first time in Dubai. He’s in his normal pre-season training routine.
“He did say to us that 8 February was a more suitable date for him in terms of preparing for the Australian Open,” Tiley added.
“But a lot will depend on how he responds to his surgery in the next two to three weeks of training.”
The men’s and women’s qualifiers for the Australian Open will be held in Doha and Dubai respective, with players arriving in Melbourne from 15 January on chartered flights for their quarantine.
Tiley asserted that organisers would constantly test players for Covid-19, while they will be allowed to train for five hours a day in a bio-secure bubble, but they will be assigned a practice partner.
Players will be shuttled between designated hotels and the Melbourne Park venue where the tournament is held, and if anyone tests positive, they will be forced to isolate in their room.
“If there are any breaches (of quarantine) the player will be immediately removed from the country as well as being fined,” Tiley warned.
A trimmed 12-team ATP Cup, a relocated Adelaide International, and a ATP 250 tournament will all be played in Melbourne once players are out of isolation.
Two WTA 500 tournaments are also planned to be held concurrently at Melbourne Park on January 31-February 7.
Apart from isolated outbreaks, Australia has handled the virus relatively well but they have instituted strong controls and all sporting events need to ensure they have met government requirements.