Tennis

Organisers admit Australia Open could be cancelled

Tennis Australia will abide by restrictions in place, but are looking at options

Tennis Australia conceded yesterday that January's Australian Open faces cancellation under a worst-case scenario, but said it was looking at a range of options in the hope that the Covid-19 crisis eases.

This year's tennis calendar has been suspended until at least July 13 and, with global borders closed, there is uncertainty about when the international circuit can resume.

The season-opening Grand Slam is scheduled for Melbourne from Jan 18-31, more than eight months away, and Tennis Australia said it would abide by whatever restrictions were in place at that time.

"We've certainly made no secret about the number of scenarios that we're looking at," a spokesman said.

"We're hoping for the best, but planning for everything."

Possibilities range from cancellation to imposing quarantine on overseas players and allowing only Australian fans into the event.

"We have to look at all the angles because a lot of the decisions will be beyond our control and related to government guidelines and restrictions," she said.

"We do need to have all the protocols in place to ensure everyone's safety."

The news comes as a blow to Rafael Nadal, who has given up on this tennis calendar year and was looking forward to 2021.

"I see 2020 pretty much as a lost year," he told El Pais.

"I am more concerned about the Australian Open than about what will happen at the end of this year. I have the hope of starting again next year."

This year's Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II and the French Open postponed until the end of September.

The United States Tennis Association will decide next month whether or not the US Open will be able to begin on schedule in August in New York.

Nadal also said all players will need to take a coronavirus vaccine should one become available and be made compulsory by the sport's governing bodies.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic admitted last month that he would be opposed to taking a compulsory coronavirus vaccine.

When asked in an interview with La Voz de Galicia if he would be in favour of compulsory vaccination, Nadal said: "One has to comply to the rules... Djokovic will have to be vaccinated if he wants to continue playing at the highest level.

"Everyone, me too... will have to comply... It is a matter of following the rules." - AFP

Tennis