Australian Open chief says Russian and Belarusian players will be eligible to play at 2023 event

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley with the Australian Open trophies

Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and the rest of the Russian and Belarusian players on the ATP and WTA Tours are “welcome” to play at the 2023 Australian Open, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

Players from the two countries were banned from competing at grass-court events in the United Kingdomg this year – including Wimbledon – following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February.

The move did not go down well with tennis authorities as the ATP and WTA retaliated by stripping Wimbledon of ranking points, much to the dismay of those who competed at the grass-court Grand Slam and those who were banned.

Players from Russia and Belarus were free to compete at the French Open and US Open, meaning the All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association – who followed a UK government directive – were essentially on their own when it came to banning individual players.

The International Tennis Federation did bar the Russia and the Belarus teams from competing in the Davis Cup Finals and the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, but all other organisations allowed them to compete as individuals with the Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems banned.

Tiley says Tennis Australia will stick to that position for next year’s tournaments in Australia, including the season-opening Grand Slam.

“At this point, Russian and Belarusian players will be eligible to play in the Australian Open,” he said.

“The only difference will be that they cannot represent Russia – they cannot represent the flag of Russia.

“They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name.

“But they will be welcome to the Australian Open in January.”

The 2023 Australian Open will take place from January 16-29 at Melbourne Park, but Australia will host several other events in the lead-up to the hard-court Grand Slam.

The season is expected to start with a new mixed-teams tournament, similar to the now defunct Hopman Cup, with Sydney likely to play host while Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart are also set to stage ATP and WTA events.

Tiley, though, didn’t divulge too much about the revamped Australian schedule.

“We hope to have our major cities have a major event, a different event, a one of a kind,” he said. “We will make that announcement when we are ready to make that announcement.”

READ MORE: Wimbledon CEO stands by decision to ban Russia and Belarusia players, confirms appeal against WTA fine