Novak Djokovic hopes the Australian Open can go ahead for the ‘sake of tennis’ amid concerns that the first Grand Slam of 2021 could be cancelled.
Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, has been in regular contact with Australian Open chief Tiley, who had previously claimed there was a ‘guarantee’ that the tournament would take place.
‘There is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone in Victoria and we didn’t have that guarantee previously,’ Tiley told News Corp.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews cast fresh doubt over the Grand Slam and the accompanying events Tiley and co. were hoping to host in Melbourne.
‘The notion this is all tied up with a bow, it’s a done deal, that’s simply wrong,’ Andrews said. ‘The public health team needs to sign off on all of these arrangements and they are just not settled.
‘We want the event to happen, just like the Boxing Day Test, but the thing about the cricket compared to the tennis is it’s a tiny group of people [who] we think we can quarantine. It’s a massive event. It’s an event that all of us love … but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire.
‘The notion this is all a done deal and there’s going to be all these tennis players turning up – no, this is not settled at all. It’s an important event, absolutely, but avoiding a third wave is arguably even more important. This needs to be done on the best of public health advice.’
There were plans for up to 550 players and their entourages to fly into Melbourne from mid-December, where they would be allowed to practise and train but only able to access their hotels or tennis courts until they had completed a two-week quarantine.
From then onwards, it was proposed they could travel around Victoria to compete at the events.
But after Andrews’ comments, it now appears that the tournaments are in jeopardy, including the Australian Open.
It was news to Djokovic, an eight-time champion in Melbourne, who expressed his hope that they would be able to go ahead as planned.
‘I have not noticed much of a doubt whether the tournaments will happen or not,’ said the 33-year-old. ‘That’s obviously from my point of view seeing what is happening, that there was no doubt that the tournaments will happen, so they will happen.
‘It is challenging, I must say. We don’t know whether ATP Cup is happening. We heard some rumours there might be eight teams only. Well, in that case if that happens, maybe then, you know, obviously ATP should try to do another 250 event or – I mean, it’s not easy for anybody, really.
‘Obviously you want things to be ideal, but what is ideal in these circumstances? We really don’t know. So I think it’s out of our reach.
‘Also Tennis Australia has to follow what Australian government is regulating and proposing them to do. So, yeah, we just have to wait and see, I guess. I don’t know.
‘I hope that it will happen. I want to play in Australia, Australian Open. I’m not sure about the ATP Cup and the tournaments before, because obviously you have to leave quite in advance, actually, I think two-and-a-half or three weeks prior to the first match.
‘So let’s see how that goes. But I’m just hoping for the sake of tennis and sake of players that we will have Australian Open and also possibility of ATP Cup and couple more tournaments at least.’
Djokovic had enjoyed a routine afternoon’s work earlier at the ATP Finals, breaking Diego Schwartzman four times as he won 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 18 minutes.
Schwartzman broke early on but was unable to sustain any significant damage to the world No. 1, who won at a canter.
‘Everything is difficult against him,’ bemoaned the Argentine. ‘I think what he’s doing when he’s playing his best, he’s moving the ball from everywhere to everywhere, you know, to every single point on court.
‘So it’s very difficult to see or to know what he’s going to do and trying to make good points, because he’s moving the ball, he’s doing defenses, he’s doing winners. He has a lot of talent when he have the chance to move the ball.’
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