Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka won the men’s and women’s singles in Melbourne earlier this year after players had to comply with quarantine restrictions
Australian Open organisers insist the tournament will be held in Melbourne in January 2022.
The country is set to stick by its plans to keep its international borders largely closed until the middle of next year, leading to speculation the grand slam could be held elsewhere.
Tournament director Craig Tiley and his team had to overcome many obstacles to hold the event this year, with the tournament moved back by three weeks and players forced to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in the country.
Tennis Australia took a huge financial hit but Tiley insisted the tournament will not be moved, telling Australian media: “I mentioned to the team the other day that we climbed Mount Everest and, unfortunately, we are going to be at base camp again. We are going to be here in Melbourne. It’s going to be here in January.”
Most of the players were understanding of the quarantine situation but there were a number of public complaints and 72 players found themselves unable to leave their hotel rooms during the fortnight after positive coronavirus cases on their flights.
There is an acceptance that players would not be prepared to go through the same restrictions next year but there was a lot of hostility in Melbourne to the tournament being held at all in February because of the country’s commitment to keeping community rates at zero.
Tiley is hopeful an arrangement acceptable to all parties can be reached, saying: “That is what we are planning towards, that is what we have set our scenarios against and it is contingent, obviously, on having a modified environment which relates to quarantining because the tennis athletes that are travelling around the world (are) in a bubble.
“We had a modified one this year – players could leave their room for five hours a day to train. But, for us, we have to bring it as close as we can to the current environment that the players are in.
“They have been in countries that have been ravaged by the virus. A very, very, small percentage, I think one or two per cent at most, have tested positive. They have done a good job.”