Organizers of the Australian Open 2021 have confirmed that the men's qualifying event this year will take place in Doha, while the women's qualifying event will take place in Dubai.
Tennis Australia had to undergo a series of negotiations with the state of Victoria to ensure that the Melbourne Slam could still be held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was finally agreed that a limited number of players and staff members would be allowed to enter Melbourne in mid-January, and that they would have to remain in quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.
Due to these restrictions, the organizers have decided to host the qualifying events outside the country.
The Australian Open 2021 men’s qualifying event will take place at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha (Qatar) from 10 to 14 January. Meanwhile the Australian Open 2021 women's qualifying event will take place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and Complex in Dubai, on the same dates.
128 men and 128 women will compete for 16 qualifying spots each in the Australian Open 2021 men's and women's main draws respectively. The tournament is set to kick off in Melbourne on 8 February, after the players have completed their quarantine.
The Australian Open 2021 qualifying draw has a mix of rising youngsters and accomplished veterans
Among the notable names on the men's side are former Australian Open boys’ singles champions Sebastian Korda and Lorenzo Musetti, as well as Spain's Carlos Alcaraz and France's Hugo Gaston.
There are a few veterans in the main draw too, including former world No. 5 Tommy Robredo, former world No. 10 Ernests Gulbis, former world No. 12 Viktor Troicki and former world No. 14 Ivo Karlovic. Australia's former junior World No. 1 Bernard Tomic will also try his luck in Doha.
On the women's side, former World No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard, two-time Australian Open doubles champion Timea Babos, former French Open finalist Sara Errani, former Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova, former world No. 35 CiCi Bellis and 18-year-old Dane Clara Tauson are among those who will be aiming for a spot in the main draw.
The Australian Open 2021 has already seen a major setback with the withdrawal of six-time champion Roger Federer. The Swiss has decided to delay his comeback from knee surgery earlier this year, and is likely to return to action at Rotterdam.
Apart from Federer, all of the other top players are entered in the Australian Open 2021 as of now.Published 29 Dec 2020, 18:04 IST