Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem will skip Melbourne and land in Adelaide
Australia will welcome over 1200 people and their coaching staff next week, with 18 flights from seven different locations and full health measures implemented by the state government.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, the world's leading trio, will not be among them. The mentioned group will land in Adelaide, embrace two quarantine weeks and play exhibition matches at the end of January, just ahead of their Melbourne trip and the ATP Cup duties. The organizers have almost filled their Melbourne capacities, and they had to work on other options ahead of the first matches in February.
They decided to send the leading players and their coaching teams from both the ATP and WTA to Adelaide, which didn't make happy some of their colleagues. They fear that Novak, Rafa and Dominic will have the opportunity to use more facilities in a smaller bubble, avoid those five-hour outside the hotel rule and act almost like in regular tournaments without the bubble.
"We approached the South Australian government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people, but they wouldn't have any interest in doing it because there's no benefit for them to do it to put their community at risk if the players then go straight to Melbourne. But it would be a benefit if they played an exhibition tournament just before they came to Melbourne, so the premier Steven Marshall has agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and then have those players play an exhibition event.
We know we're going to have a lot more challenges, but the bottom line is we will do the best we can to deliver an Australian Open that is close to what it was in 2020. We all feel buoyed and confident about what we can pull off during a pandemic," Craig Tiley said.