Ash Barty’s hopes of joining the elite group of players in Adelaide for an exhibition on 29 January have been fulfilled as the women’s World No 1 has been named to take part with Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
… they’re the top players in the world and my general rule is if you’re at the top of the game, a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the nature of the business. You are going to get a better deal. Craig Tiley, AO Tournament Director and Tennis Australia CEO
“I am looking forward to playing my first match for the 2021 season in Adelaide,” said Barty, who won the WTA tournament in Adelaide last year. “I have fond memories from the Adelaide International last year and it will be great to get back on court here for A Day at the Drive.”
Barty, 24, has not played an official match since losing her semi-final against Petra Kvitova in Doha last February shortly before the outbreak of the global pandemic, opting not to defend her French Open title and skipping the US Open in New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making up the 8-player field for the ‘A Day at the Drive’ exhibition are US Open winners Dominic Thiem and Naomi Osaka, plus women’s No 2 Simona Halep and 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner.
The Adelaide event will launch Australia’s summer of tennis and will take place at the city’s Memorial Drive Tennis Centre ahead of the WTA and ATP tournaments scheduled from 31 January.
While hundreds of other players and their entourages are undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine in Melbourne, the top players were sent to Adelaide, prompting claims from some that the big names were receiving better treatment.
Tennis Australia Chief Executive Craig Tiley said earlier in the week that this had been done to ensure organisers did not exceed the limit set by the authorities for people quarantining in Melbourne.
“… they’re the top players in the world and my general rule is if you’re at the top of the game, a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the nature of the business,” an unrepentant Tiley said. “You are going to get a better deal.”
Apart from Barty, the star-studded field are spending their mandatory 14-day quarantine in Adelaide but are allowed to practice and to have more support people accompanying them.
The Australian Open has been delayed until 8 February, while Melbourne Park will host all the warm-up tournaments ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Meanwhile, the ATP Cup draw will take place on Friday ahead of the event, which will be held from 1-5 February, and features 12 countries competing for the trophy for a second time, with Spain’s Nadal and Serbia’s Djokovic leading the charge.
Serbia will defend as champions, having won the successful inaugural event held in 3 Australian cities last year, and defeating Spain, 2-1, in the 2020 final.
ATP Cup Tournament Director Tom Larner said: “Last year we launched the global tennis season with the inaugural ATP Cup.
“It was a huge success with both players and fans, and we are excited to present the second edition in Melbourne in 2021.
“The players are looking forward to stepping up and representing their countries again, and the field, including defending champions Serbia and finalists Spain, is strong.”
The 12 teams will be drawn into 4 groups of 3 for the round-robin group stage, with the top 4 countries placed in separate groups, and countries ranked 5 to 8 drawn randomly, followed by countries ranked 9 to 12.
The 4 group winners will progress to the knock-out semi-finals and final stages.
The draw will be conducted at 1am GMT and can be viewed via a live stream on the ATP Cup’s official Facebook page.