For the first time in Australian Open history the qualifying tournament for the ‘Happy Slam’ will not be held in the country.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine process those arriving in Australia have to go through, officials have sought the help of two other countries to stage their events. The Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha will be home to the men’s tournament. First opened in 1992, the venue usually holds the Qatar Open (ATP 250) which will not be taking place in 2021.
“It’s our pleasure to have the opportunity of hosting the qualifying rounds of the 2021 Australian Open, and we are glad to welcome all the participating players to Doha. We promise them an exceptional experience which will live up to Qatar’s globally recognised reputation as a major destination for world sports,” Karim Alami from the Qatari Tennis Federation said in a statement.
“Selecting Doha to host the 2021 Australian Open qualifiers due to coronavirus pandemic reflects the global trust in Qatar’s abilities, and we are not going to leave any stoned unturned in organising a world-class event,” he added.
Among those set to participate in the 128-player draw will be Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz who was recently named ATP Newcomer of the Year after winning three Challenger titles before his 18th birthday. Other youngsters set to play include Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Korda.
Also on the entry list are former top 20 players Ivo Karlovic, Ernests Gulbis and Viktor Troicki. There is a strong chance that this could be Troicki’s last time trying to qualify for the Grand Slam after being appointed the Davis Cup captain of Serbia.
“We are very grateful to our friends in Qatar for hosting the Australian Open 2021 men’s qualifying event in Doha,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Staging the AO qualifying event, and providing players with the opportunity to both earn prize money and win the chance to play Grand Slam tennis during this difficult time has been a key objective in all our planning.”
A full list of entrants is yet to be published by the organisers.
UAE for the women
As for the WTA players seeking a route into the Grand Slam main draw, they will be playing their qualifying rounds at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and Complex in Dubai. As is currently stands all 16 seeds will be ranked in the world’s top 125.
Heading the field will be Spain’s Aliona Bolsova who is yet to play in the main draw of the Australian Open. Kaja Juvan, Oceane Dodin and Greet Minnen are the highest ranked players after Bolsova.
Also taking part will be a former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard and 2019 US Open semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova. Timea Babos, Sara Errani and Timea Babos will also be playing.
“Tennis players are a regular here, both for training and time off, and they know what Dubai has to offer. We are sure they will be looking forward to the qualifying tournament here and giving off their best in a totally safe environment, with all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and protocols in place,” the Dubai Sports Council said in a statement.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will take place between January 10-13. A total of 16 main draw spots is up for grabs.
|Women’s qualifying entry list|
|Ranking||First Name||Last Name||Nation|
|186||Maria Camila||Osorio Serrano||COL|
French Open Make Changes To Tournament Schedule
One draw is getting bigger but another has been cut by 50%!
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is increasing the number of players participating in this year’s French Open qualifying tournament in order to help provide financial support to more on the Tour.
From 2021 the clay court Grand Slam will welcome 128 players to the qualifying event which is the same number of players participating in the main draw. This is a 33% increase in the usual number of participants which is 96. The event is scheduled to take place over four days between May 24-28 but will be held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic like last year. However, organisers are still hopeful they will still be able to open the main draw up to the public.
“This decision will also allow the tournament to support a category of players who have been particularly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, financially-speaking,” a statement reads.
Last year’s French Open offered 10,000 euros to players who lost in the first round of qualifying. Players who qualified and reached the main draw were guaranteed to take home at least 60,000 euros. The prize money breakdown of this year’s tournament is still to be confirmed.
Another change being made concerns the Mixed Doubles event, which wasn’t held at Roland Garros in 2020. The draw will be making a comeback but with a 50% reduction in its field size. Just 16 teams will be playing in the draw compared to the usual 32. Meaning this year’s Mixed Doubles champions will only have to win four matches en route to the title.
This year’s French Open has already been pushed back by a week due to the pandemic with officials hoping the extra delay will maximise their chances of welcoming fans to the event. Although world No.2 Daniil Medvedev recently questioned the decision and if it would make any difference.
“It will give the health situation more time to improve and should optimise our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland-Garros,” said FFT President Gilles Moreton.
“For the fans, the players and the atmosphere, the presence of spectators is vital for our tournament, the spring’s most important international sporting event.”
The French Open main draw is set to start on May 30th. Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek are the defending champions.
REPORT: French Open Night Sessions Could Be Exclusively For Men
There will be an equal number of men’s and women’s matches on the premier court but one source is claiming priority will be given to one gender when it comes to playing at night.
The upcoming French Open could be embodied in controversy after a leading media source reported that a deal is being struck to give the evening slot to only male players.
This year will be the first time in history the clay court major will implement a night session starting from 21:00 local time. It has been made possible following a series of upgrades to the venue, including the use of floodlights. The French Open is the third major to implement such a session after both the US Open and Australian Open.
Although a significant argument could break out concerning the tournament with accusations of sexism. RMC Sport has obtained some information about the event and claims a deal is set to be struck for only men’s matches to be played at night. It is alleged that the move is down to the Amazon who has exclusive rights to the 10 night sessions. The belief is that they want to focus more on the men at night in order to maximise their potential audience.
RMC reports that the ‘provisional programme’ for the French Open is that there will be an equal number of men’s and women’s matches on the prestigious Philippe Chatrier Court. However, when it comes to the end of the day it will be men only. There has been no formal confirmation from either Amazon or the French Tennis Federation (FFT) regarding the report.
The controversial claims comes amid speculation over the start date of the French Open after the country went into lockdown for the third time. Roxana Maracineanu, who is the French minister of sport, recently admitted that a delay is possible due to the pandemic.
“Discussions are underway with the organisers on the methods used, in particular for the reception of the public,” the ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
“A delay of a few days is under discussion,” she added.
Both the ATP and WTA will be hoping that no delay occurs due to the impact it could have on their calendars. Should the Grand Slam take place a week later than expected, it will clash with four tournaments set to mark the start of the grass-court season. They are the ATP Stuttgart, ATP s-Hertogenbosch, WTA Nottingham and WTA ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
The French Open is critical for the FFT with it generating roughly 80% of their annual turnover, according to L’Equipe newspaper. Officials are hoping to hold the event in front of fans but this is subject to how the pandemic develops over the coming weeks. Last year the event was allowed to welcome no more than 1000 fans per day under government rules.
At present the French Open is set to begin on May 17th.
UPDATE: The FFT has since published a statement in which they have denied the report.
French Open Start Date In Doubt Amid COVID-19 Crises
Will the French Open get underway next month or not?
A member of the government has confirmed that it is possible that the French open could be delayed for a second year in a row as the country enters into a third national lockdown.
Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, who is a former Olympic swimmer herself, has told French radio that numerous options are on the table. Ranging from holding the event as currently planned to cancelling it all together. Last year the Grand Slam was moved to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took place with a reduced number of spectators allowed to attend.
“We are in discussion with them (the French Tennis Federation, which organises the event) to see if we should change the date to coincide with a possible resumption of all sports and major events,” Maracineanu told France Info radio.
“Today, although high-level sport has been preserved, we try to limit the risks of clusters, of spreading the virus within professional sports.”
Earlier in the week the head of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said the tournament was on track but admitted that it is possible that the situation could change in the coming weeks. During an interview with AFP, Gilles Moretton stated that any future decision depends on lockdown restrictions.
“At the moment we are on track, the tournament is on the scheduled dates,” said Moretton. “But if we are told a general confinement for two months, we will necessarily have to take measures—at worst, complete cancellation, but I dare not imagine that.
The French Open is currently set to start next month on May 23rd. However, uncertainty over the event coincides with a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. On Friday authorities said the number of seriously ill COVID patients in intensive care rose by 145 which is the biggest jump in five months. On the same day the country reported 46,677 new cases and 304 deaths.
In a bid to reduce the strain of the pandemic, a lockdown has been imposed on the country with all non-essential shops shut for four weeks and a curfew in place between 19:00 and 0600. Most sporting events have been unaffected by the move so far with the only exception being cycling’s Paris-Roubaix one-day race which has been delayed.
Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek are the reigning champions at Roland Garros.
Filip Krajinovic edges Stefano Travaglia to reach the second round at the Serbian Open in Belgrade
Kei Nishikori survives scare to beat Guido Pella at the Barcelona Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas follows in the footsteps of his mother Julia Salnikova in Monte-Carlo
Petra Kvitova starts her title defence against Jennifer Brady at the Porsche Open in Stuttgart
What Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Monte Carlo Win Tells Us About The Upcoming Clay Season
Model Claims She Was Offered 60,000 Euros To Set Up Novak Djokovic
Naomi Osaka And The (Other) Surfaces
Updated Entry Lists For Marbella, Cagliari
Furious Vasek Pospisil Blames Miami Open Meltdown On Heated Meeting With ATP
Novak Djokovic Only Loses Matches When He Allows His Opponents To Beat Him, Claims Father
Steve Flink: “Jannik Sinner Will Be a Top 10 Player by the US Open”
(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz
Steve Flink: “Naomi Osaka Will Win At Least A Dozen Slams”
Steve Flink: “Djokovic and Nadal will end up with more Slams than Federer”
Steve Flink: “Why would Djokovic fake an injury when he’s two sets up?”
Hot Topics1 day ago
Roger Federer To Skip Two Masters Events But Still Plans To Play French Open
ATP2 days ago
Former Australian Open Semi-Finalist Kyle Edmund Undergoes Surgery
Latest news1 day ago
Italian girls Vittoria and Carola nominated for Laureus Award
Hot Topics1 day ago
Stefanos Tsitsipas Roars To Maiden Masters Title In Monte Carlo
Latest news2 days ago
Elisabetta Cocciaretto secures Italy the decisive 3-1 win against Romania in Billie Jean King Cup Play-off
Focus2 days ago
Monte-Carlo Masters Sunday Preview: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev Battle for their First Masters Title
Latest news2 days ago
Stefanos Tsitsipas moves into his first final in Monte-Carlo
Hot Topics18 hours ago
‘Huge Parts Are Lost’ – Dominic Thiem Opens Up On Struggles With COVID-19 Restrictions