Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic forced to change Australian Open plans due to COVID rules

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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are among a host of elite tennis players who have been forced to alter their schedule due to quarantine issues in Australia. The new season is back up and running with stars heading Down Under ahead of the Australian Open with other events taking place in the weeks before it starts.

The country has already planned for nearly 1,300 people to arrive next week before undergoing a two-week quarantine period.

Both players and coaches will be required to stick to the strict guidelines with only five hours a day outside permitted for training.

With both the ATP Cup and Australian Open being held in Melbourne, most players will be heading there to quarantine.

However, special exemptions have been made for some of the elite men and women players to instead quarantine in South Australia.

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Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley gave an update earlier this week on Twitter that there had been some “unavoidable delays” in scheduling all the flights and precautions needed.

But he has also confirmed that hotel rooms in Melbourne for international players and coaches are nearing capacity and an approach to Adelaide was made to accommodate some of the best players.

The South Australia government are said to have wanted something in return and an agreement has since been made for an exhibition tournament to take place in Adelaide on January 29 and 30 featuring the top three ranked men’s and women’s players.

We’re right up to the edge on the numbers of people we’re allowed to quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief, so we approached the South Australia government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people,” he told Tennis Channel.


“But they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it because there’s no benefit to them to put their whole community at risk.

“But it would be a benefit if there was an exhibition just before Melbourne.

“The premier there agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and have those players play in exhibitions.

“So we chose the top three men and top three women, and they’ll play an exhibition on January 29 and 30.”

It means Nadal, Djokovic and Dominic Thiem will play against one another at Memorial Park while Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka are likely to face off in the women’s event.

But that doesn’t leave them much time to head down to Melbourne for the start of the ATP Cup on February 1.

Djokovic helped lead Serbia to victory in the inaugural ATP Cup last year, beating Nadal’s Spain in the final.

The tournament will see 12 countries face off and every top-15 star except for Roger Federer are set to compete.

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