Serena Williams, Ashleigh Barty to headline Australian Open warm-up tournaments
Organisers have branded the WTA 500 and ATP 250 events as the Melbourne Summer Series and named each tournament after areas of Victoria state.
Melbourne: World number one Ashleigh Barty and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will spearhead the two WTA tournaments in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, with the top 32-ranked women split evenly across the simultaneous events, organisers said Thursday.
The onslaught of COVID-19 has forced a radical change to how the early 2021 tennis season will look, with the Australian Open pushed back three weeks to 8 February.
Players will arrive in Australia from 15 January and undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine before two WTA 500 and two ATP 250 events are held alongside the ATP Cup, all at Melbourne Park.
Organisers have branded it the Melbourne Summer Series and named each tournament after areas of Victoria state.
That will see the women play the Gippsland Trophy and Yarra Valley Classic from January 31-February 6, marking Barty's first appearance in 11 months after opting out of the US and European swing last year over coronavirus fears.
As well as Williams, the likes of world number two Simona Halep, defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and previous Australian Open winners Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber will take part.
The leading men's stars, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, will compete in the 12-team ATP Cup, which will be run at the same time and at the same venue.
Those that didn't qualify will play in two ATP 250 tournaments - the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, featuring top names including David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios.
"There's no doubt this will be an historic week of tennis, and is the biggest-ever Australian Open lead-in week we have seen," said Tennis Australia's major events chief Cameron Pearson.
"While we know the circumstances are unique this year, it is a huge coup to secure such strong playing fields."
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Australian Open 2021: India's Ankita Raina loses to Olga Danilovic, eliminated in final round of qualifiers
In the women's singles qualifiers being held in Dubai, Ankita lost the third and final round 2-6, 6-3, 1-6 to her Serbian opponent in almost two hours.
Australian Open 2021: Rafael Nadal's coach Carlos Moya to miss tournament due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
Nadal is aiming to clinch a 21st major title in Melbourne, which would put him ahead of Federer's 20 as the most successful men's player of all time.
Murray, who has finished runner-up in Melbourne on five separate occasions, is currently isolating at home, and is still hopeful of competing in the tournament.