Australian Open hopefuls face three-week bubble to enter grand slam

Players will need to travel to Australia three weeks before the Australian Open to spend two weeks in quarantine and take part in warm-up tournaments.

The first grand slam of 2021, which has a purse of £40m, will begin in Melbourne on 8 February but players must arrive in the country by mid-January to clear quarantine. Players will stay in selected hotels and will be allowed to train during the quarantine period, with a biosecure environment to be established.

The WTA has announced two 500 tournaments will be staged at Melbourne Park from 31 January to 7 February as warm-up events, while the ATP will move the Adelaide International to the city and also host an ATP 250 Tournament at the same time.

The tournament director, Clive Tiley, said charter flights would be arranged for players on 15 and 16 January and that there would be a “high level of security” around the quarantine arrangements to ensure players’ safety.

“Entries close early next week and at this point we have a commitment from every single player in the world to be here in Australia,” he said. “We are chartering flights from around the world so the players, before they get on any flight, will have to test negative within a 48-hour window.

“When they arrive they will receive another test which will have to be negative, and they’ll remain in their hotel rooms until they have those two negative tests. Then it’s a modified quarantine environment, a high level of security. They will be transported from the hotels which will be players-only to the courts for no more than five hours a day.

“For 14 days they will only be able to go between the hotel room and the courts in a secure environment. There will be frequent tests during that two-week period.”

Players will be split into cohorts, with one designated practice partner during the first week and an increased group size in the second.

Tiley added that it was vital that players be permitted to train while still observing quarantine. “We would not be in a position to run the Australian Open if players had to stay in their hotel room for two weeks,” he said.

“They would not be prepared and we would not get the field of play that we are anticipating, so this a modifed environment. After the first week we increase the size of the cohort by a couple more so it gives them a chance to hit with someone a bit different and be fully prepared.”

Qualifying for the tournament will take place outside Australia with a women’s event in Dubai and a men’s event in Doha from 10 to 13 January, reducing the number of players travelling to the country.