Hopes grow for ‘sizeable’ crowds at Australian Open after big turn out at Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test match

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A crowd of around 27,000 were in attendance as Australia played India in the Boxing Day Test match at Melbourne’s MCG, fuelling hope that large crowds may be able to attend the Australian Open tennis tournament in February.

The first Grand Slam of the tennis year has been pushed back from its traditional slot in mid-January to a February 8th start, with players required to quarantine for two-weeks ahead of the event.

With tickets already on sale for the two-week tournament at Melbourne Park, the sight of a big socially-distances crowd at the MCG will be encouraging to Australian Open chief Craig Tiley, who has spoken of his hope to have crowds watching the tennis.

“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the Australian Open on Feb. 8,” Tiley said earlier this month.

“Players will have to quarantine for two weeks from 15 January, but the Victorian Government has agreed to special conditions for AO participants – agreeing that they need to be able to prepare for a Grand Slam.

“There will be strict conditions, but after quarantine, players are free to stay where they want, go where they want, play lead-in matches and then compete in an AO in front of significant crowds in a great Melbourne atmosphere for the first time in many months.

“The AO will be a great celebration for Melbourne and all Victoria after an incredibly tough year.

“Although our event will look a little different as we prioritise the safety of everyone, it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to come together and experience many of the best things about Melbourne – live, world-class sport in an exciting festival atmosphere.

“We look forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne Park. I know they can’t wait to compete in front of crowds again and are prepared for the strict quarantine process when they arrive, all of which is a key element of ensuring everyone’s safety.

“Tickets will be more limited this year so you’ll need to get in early to secure your seat. We are starting ticket sales at 25 per cent of capacity in our three main stadiums and as we work closely with the Victorian government, hope to be in a position to increase our numbers as we get closer to the event.”

Roger Federer has confirmed he will take part in the Australian Open, as he plans to return to the game after a year out with a knee problem in what will be a full-strength field as tennis looks to get back to something near to normality after the horrors of 2020.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne and what promises to be a spectacular Australian Open following a year of disruption on a scale none of us has ever experienced before,” added Tiley said.

“Although the AO will look a bit different from previous years, the safety of everyone is our top priority. We have the opportunity to stage a very safe, and happy Slam, and give the players the experience of competing in front of crowds again, something they’ve missed for most of this year.”

“We can’t wait to see everyone at Melbourne Park in February.”

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