Players could skip US Open and French Open and start afresh in Australia, says Australian Open chief

Rod Laver Arena Melbourne Park Australian Open

Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley has raised fresh doubts over the remainder of the 2020 season, saying many players are unlikely to play again this year and instead start the 2021 season early Down Under.

Tennis has been on an enforced break since the beginning of March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but authorities are hopeful the sport will resume in August.

The US Open is set to start on August 31 at Flushing Meadows, but will be played without spectators while the rescheduled French Open will kick off on September 20 with “up to 60%” fans.

However, several of the world’s top players including world No 1s Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty as well as Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, to name just a few, have admitted they are not sure if they travel to New York for the US Open due to strict protocols and the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

Although the situation for the French Open is a little clearer as restrictions across Europe are starting to ease, Tiley says players might just decide to call an end to their 2020 campaigns and then switch focus to the 2021 Australian Open in Melbourne.

“All of the top players, both on the women’s side and the men’s side, they look at Australia to possibly come here early in December,” he told The Age.

“You’re going to be in an environment where you feel safe, the sun is shining and most of them are coming from the northern hemisphere where it will be the middle of winter… and they can play right through until the end of January.

“Most of them – Roger Federer included – is not playing the rest of the year and is looking to the Australian Open to launch 2021.

“In fact all of them I’ve spoken to – there’s not one that hasn’t – are looking to the beginning of 2021 and the beginning of the new season as the new hope for tennis globally.

“I personally think that some of the top players will be in doubt [for the rest of 2020] and that’s simply because they may feel it’s too soon. It’s nothing against the US Open.”

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