Tennis Australia is still struggling to get agreement on Covid-19 safety regulations for the first grand slam of the 2021 season which is due to start January 18.
I would hope that all the players would be willing to do that for the good of the sport – providing all the clinical trials and everything has been done. Andy Murray
Currently rumours are circulating of a possible one or two week delay to give players time to not only fulfill the fortnight hotel confinement being imposed but also prepare for the first major of the year.
At present they aren’t allowed into the country before January 1st, which would leave just four days of preparation for the Australian Open.
As Andy Murray, who had been planning to fly to Melbourne in the middle of December, to quarantine well ahead of the Australian Open, points out:
“I’ll go as soon as I can. A lot of players are coming from very cold climates just now. To then go and ask players to play in 35, 36-degree heat with no match preparation, it just increases the risk of injuries, and possibly the quality of tennis is not going to be that high.”
As things stand it might well mean that many players will decide against travelling and give themselves more time to prepare for the rest of the season.
What would alleviate the Australian problem would be the vaccination which is due to be given the go ahead in the next few weeks. It might well be too late for use down under, but it could well ensure the rest of the calendar can be rolled out without hindrances.
Andy Murray certainly believes that players should receive an injection as he explained to reporters yesterday: “I think that should probably be the case.
“I would hope that all the players would be willing to do that for the good of the sport – providing all the clinical trials and everything has been done.”
It would certainly help the tour get back to some normality.
“I guess we’re not going to know the long-term effects potentially for a while. But what I’ve been hearing on the TV and on the news is that there shouldn’t really be any long-term effect,” the 33-year-old former world number one added.
Unfortunately, there players who are against vaccination, not least Novak Djokovic who earlier this year made his views on the subject very public.
“I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to travel” the current world number one from Serbia said.
When Murray was reminded of Djokovic’s comment, he countered: “I also read – a few weeks after he’d said he wouldn’t be keen on doing that – that if it was something that had to be done for him to play the sport, he would. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the ATP and the ITF decide.”
Meanwhile in Australia there has been no denial that the Open could be delayed.
Martin Pakula, the sports minister for Victoria state, said: “There’s a number of potential dates on the table. I’ve seen reports that suggest that it’s likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely.
“But it’s not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn’t occur at all.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay. I don’t want to unduly repeat myself, but these are very complex negotiations.”
Australian Open tournament director and Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said last weekend the final dates should be confirmed within two weeks.