World number one Novak Djokovic is urging the Victorian Government to allow players to compete before next year’s Australian Open

Davies

A tennis player pumps his fist in victory after winning the Australian Open.

World number one Novak Djokovic is urging the Victorian Government to allow players to compete before next year’s Australian Open.

Key points:

  • Novak Djokovic says having warm up matches before the grand slam is important for players
  • Tennis Australia has organised the entire season to be played in Melbourne
  • The Victorian Government has not agreed to the new schedule

The start of the 2021 tennis season remains in limbo, with officials declining to endorse Tennis Australia’s plans to have players arrive in mid-December and be free to compete at the ATP Cup and other events ahead of the year’s first grand slam.

On Monday, Tennis Australia announced all lead-up events to the Australian Open would be played in Melbourne, instead of across most of the country’s capital cities.

Djokovic — who won the Australian Open in 2020 — said he would do whatever was required to play at the Australian Open, but hoped the Victorian Government would also be accommodating.

“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,” he told reporters at the ATP Finals on Wednesday.

“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.”

A man stands at a lectern wearing a black jacket.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has not made a decision on the upcoming tennis season in Melbourne.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said this week he was confident the Australian Open would go ahead at Melbourne Park but declined to confirm Tennis Australia’s revamped schedule.

“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly,” Mr Andrews said on Wednesday.

“We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working [with] all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open. It’s a very important event.

US Open finalist Alex Zverev said players should at least be able to practice during quarantine.

“Because if we can’t even practice for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it’s a lottery,” the German said.

“You can basically flip a coin who wins.”

The Australian Open is scheduled to be held from January 18-31.

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