According to sources close to the Australian Open, players will not be allowed to enter Australia until after Christmas. Moreover, all the players will need to undergo two weeks of mandatory quarantine in the first two weeks of January, thus putting in serious doubt whether they can enter any preparatory event in the lead-up to the first Grand Slam of the year.
The quarantine details are still being worked out with the government, and the schedule of the Australian summer events - including the Australian Open - will reportedly be communicated to the players at the earliest.
The exact status of the Australian Open has been up in the air for a while now. The Victorian State Premier Daniel Andrews had stated last week that Tennis Australia's plan to hold all summer events in the state of Victoria still needed a sign-off from Australian health officials, although he was confident that the tournament would go ahead.
Right now it is not certain whether the players will be able to train at any point during the quarantine, so entering the country in January could be highly inconvenient for most of them. The revamped calendar could possibly lead to a delay of the Australian Open, which as of now is scheduled to begin on 18 January 2021.
Hope to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open: Novak Djokovic
Speaking in his press conference at the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic expressed hope that Australian officials would approve a scenario where the players would be able to compete in the second week of the quarantine.
"I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine," Djokovic said after his loss to Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday.
"I mean, hopefully that's going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything, and you won't be then losing a week. You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important. Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a grand slam, is a huge thing," he added.
Live electronic line calling to be used on all courts during Australian Open 2021
Sources close to the tournament have also confirmed that Live Electronic Line Calling will be used on all courts at the 2021 Australian Open. The purpose of this initiative is to limit the number of people on-court given the situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Electronic line calling has already been tested on outside courts at the 2020 US Open and at the ongoing ATP Finals in London. The system has largely been a success so far, with many players and experts - including Novak Djokovic - calling for it to be used at all tournaments in the future.Published 19 Nov 2020, 13:50 IST