There is still a feeling of uncertainty as the tours try to get back up and running following the five-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
We've got a lot of work to do logistically to make this all work. We need to make sure the players are safe. But I think they're going to be pretty hungry to want to play some tennis with some crowds by the time we get to January Craig Tiley
The Chinese leg of the tours have been cancelled completely for this year leaving the WTA with a huge gap in their calendars as well as in their finances.
The US Open continues to promise all will be well in New York as long as players adhere to their strict pandemic safety guidelines and sign a waiver absolving the organisers from any responsibility should they catch the dreaded disease!
We are still in the early stages of the restart and over the next month, more lessons will be learnt to make it safer for the players, the organisers and their staff, and hopefully allow spectators back in to watch properly.
Much, however, will depend on the quarantine arrangements some countries will be enforcing on travellers thereby restricting movement and perhaps restricting players to events within their own countries or neighbouring ones.
Craig Tilley, the Chief Executive of Tennis Australia, is very aware of the problems as he tries to firm up the calendar for the start of the 2021 season. He says he is in regular contact with the top players and understands their ‘guarded concerns’, especially about the travel.
“We’ve got to just talk them through their safety, what’s been done,” Tiley told Reuters. “But we’re also not forcing anyone to come, it’s ultimately their choice.
“We’re going to provide the best possible environment.
“If they get on the flight and come, we’ll ensure their safety. If they choose to stay at home for their safety, we will respect that as well.”
He is certainly making the trip attractive as TA confirms that the ATP Cup is still scheduled to go ahead in January in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney as a warm-up for the Australian Open, as are the women’s events in Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart, despite the question marks which hover over them.
“We are talking a lot to the ATP every week. We both want to run it,” Tiley said.
“It was a great start-up event. It was massively successful. We are planning on having it in three cities and we’re working with those cities.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do logistically to make this all work. We need to make sure the players are safe. But I think they’re going to be pretty hungry to want to play some tennis with some crowds by the time we get to January.”
He is also confident that they will be running the Australian Open in its usual calendar slot with full prize money and spectators back in the stands.
Part of that plan is to establish five bio-security ‘bubbles’ in cities across Australia from early December, and as an added bonus, TA are looking at giving players who arrive early more tournament play opportunities to prepare for the first Grand Slam of the season.
Meanwhile the Murray brothers have jetted off to New York to prepare for the US Open which starts on the 31st August.
The flight was marked by Jamie Murray posting a video on Instagram revealing that the pair had boarded only for Andy to discover he had forgotten some essential travel gear.
“The only thing he remembered to bring was his mask” Jamie said chiding his younger brother for being disorganised.
The omissions meant that Andy Murray would have a boring eight-hour flight after forgetting his earphones and laptop charger.