The 2021 tennis season will kick off within weeks in the Gulf with Australian Open qualifying rounds in Dubai and a new event in nearby Abu Dhabi.
The Gulf News reported on Sunday that the emergency COVID-era plan is set to be confirmed shortly by tennis officials.
It was made necessary by the strict lockdown in Australia and the uncertainty of final dates for the sure-to-be-delayed Open, which is theoretically due to begin in mid-January but is more likely to start on February 8.
The newspaper said that the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi will stage a new 500 series WTA tournament January 5-13; qualifying for the Open will be held in Dubai from January 9-13.
The 16 men and 16 women’s players who qualify into the troubled first Grand Slam of the season will then be flown to Melbourne to begin a mandatory 14-day hotel-room quarantine period prior to the kickoff of the major in front of reduced or no crowds.
Abu Dhabi has for a decade been the venue for a high-profile holiday period exhibition while Dubai is home in February to back-to-back WTA and ATP Tour events.
An ITF women’s Challenger was just completed at the weekend in Dubai at the Aviation Club venue.
With COVID disrupting tennis, the usual season-opening WTA tournaments in Auckland, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Shenzhen are off the calendar.
On the ATP side, Qatar, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland have all been wiped out for January.
Officials at Tennis Australia have been negotiating for months with State government on conditions for holding the Grand Slam; announcement of future plans can be expected at any time in the long and drawn-out process.
Main photo:- World Tennis Championship 2019 at Mubadala Tennis Centre by mubadalawtc.com