Early-season WTA events and Australian Open qualifying events to be staged in Middle East?

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The 2021 WTA tennis season will reportedly kick off in the Middle East with the region also set to host the Australian Open qualifying events.

With the coronavirus causing havoc to the tennis schedule this year, it is also expected to have a major impact on the start of the new campaign.

The WTA season traditionally starts in Australasia, but the Auckland Open has already been cancelled while the Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart events are set to follow suit due to quarantine restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Australian Open is likely to be pushed back from its original 18-31 January date with 8-21 February set to be the new time slot.

2021 Australian Open set for 8 February start with players allowed to train during quarantine – reports

However, it emerged last week that the Australian Open qualifiers for both the ATP and WTA will be moved to the Middle East with Dubai set to host the event.

And the report from Gulf News claims “the first week of the new season will see Abu Dhabi hosting a WTA 500 event from January 5-13 for the first time”.

“The tennis plan of action at the moment is to have the WTA 500 tournament in the first week of the season at the International Tennis Complex of Zayed Sports City from January 5 to 13 followed by the Australian Open qualifiers at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium from January 9 to 13,” the report adds.

As for the Australian Open qualifiers, it is set to be staged at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium from 9-13 January.

The players who qualify for the hard-court Grand Slam will then “travel on charter flights from Dubai to Melbourne to serve the mandated quarantine period ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam”.

“There are quite a few top tennis players who have chosen Dubai for their off-season preparations, and these players will join the qualifiers in special charter flights heading to Melbourne,” an official told Gulf News”.

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