How blockbuster summer of tennis will unfold
A blockbuster week of tennis will be played in Melbourne in the lead-up to the Australian Open as crowds return to the nation's sporting capital.
The world's best tennis stars will step out of quarantine and on to Victorian courts, with a deal between Tennis Australia and the state government imminent. It will extend the contract to keep the Open in Melbourne by three years to 2039.
The government is expected to confirmed as early as Thursday the Open will start on February 8 - a long-rumoured commencement date - three weeks later than scheduled.
International players will be allowed to enter Victoria to quarantine in mid January and step on court for pre-Open matches usually played interstate.
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ATP Cup, WTA and other matches will be staged in Victoria from February 1 at Melbourne Park. The Open will be played until February 21, with players allowed to train during some of their quarantine.
The Herald Sun last month revealed all major tennis events of the summer would be moved to Victoria from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart in a bid to simplify quarantine and border restrictions.
Tennis Australia wanted to stage several events in regional Victoria before and after the original Australian Open dates of January 18-31 in a move that would have brought up to three months of elite sport.
But drawn out talks with government has restricted the amount of matches that could be played in regional areas such as Traralgon and Bendigo.
The Herald Sun understands concerns over crowd numbers delayed announcements with health authorities also said to be "overly cautious" about what will happen when the international players and their entourages are released from their two-week hotel quarantine.
Tennis Australia and the government declined to comment on Wednesday.
But Australian Open boss Craig Tiley recently said at least 25 per cent of normal crowds would be allowed at Melbourne Park but more were likely if coronavirus conditions remained steady.
"I'm pretty confident that if we are sitting at zero and keep it zero all the way through to January, I think the government will look differently at crowds,'' he said.
The government is under pressure to nail the safety of its hotel quarantine regimen after the deadly second wave of coronavirus in Victoria.
The hotel quarantine inquiry will hand down its final report on Monday.
Originally published as How blockbuster summer of tennis will unfold