REPORT: Australian Open Gets New Start Date Amid Huge Financial Cost - UBITENNIS
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REPORT: Australian Open Gets New Start Date Amid Huge Financial Cost

It is understood that the first Grand Slam of 2021 could cost as much as AUS$100 million.



The 2021 Australian Open will take place three weeks later than planned with players being tested for COVID-19 five times during their self-quarantine period, according to multiple sources.


Newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained a letter from Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley which outlines plans for the upcoming Grand Slam tournament that will now start on February 8th. Upon arrival in the country players will have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine period but will still be allowed to leave their hotel room up to five hours each day within the ‘bio secure bubble.’ They will only be allowed to train if they test negative on the second day of isolation and it is understood that they can only practice with one coach at a time.

The five COVID-19 tests are set to take place on day one, three, seven, 10 and 14. Charter flights to Australia will take place between January 15-17 but the quarantine period will not begin until the last player arrives.

“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on February 8,” the letter from Tiley reads.

Even more significant is that Tennis Australia is reportedly set to pay for charter flights, player and entourage quarantine costs, meals and accommodation. A somewhat bold move when it was reported on the same day that the organisation confirmed that it will take them five years to recover from the pandemic and that they are using their reserves at present.

“We also expect that we will use the majority of our reserves in maintaining funding to the sport and playing group,” Tiley said in comments published by The Australian newspaper.
“As a result of these costs we are exploring options for a line of credit and/or a loan which will allow us to maintain cash flow at critical times and support us in the recovery from the impacts of the pandemic once access to government subsidies have ended.
“We believe that recovery from the pandemic will take up to five years.”

It is understood that the delayed Grand Slam with all the bubble protocols being implemented could cost up to AUS$100 million which is $20 million more than Tennis Australia’s reserves that they have generated in recent years. According to financial records, their surplus for the year to June 30 was almost cut in two to $5.4 million compared to $10.7M in profit the year prior.

Despite the financial difficulties, Tiley says there will be no impact on the prize money pool awarded at the Australian Open but it will be adjusted in some rounds.

“(the) full $71 million prize money and (we) are working with the tours on redistribution with large increases to the early rounds and a likely first round purse of $100k.” An extract from Tiley’s letter reads.

There are also doubts about if qualifying for the Australian Open will go ahead or not. Tiley is reported as saying that the main draw of the event shouldn’t start on February 1st because it ‘would have been unfair to players who may get infected during quarantine.’ That week would be the week the qualifying tournaments get played.

Outside of their hotels, players will only be allowed to travel to Melbourne Park or the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.

Tennis Australia or the local government of Victoria are yet to publicly comment on the leaked plans.


Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Coco Gauff in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final



A look at last year’s trophy ceremony after the women’s championship match (

The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in Paris.


A year ago in the women’s singles championship match, Iga Swiatek defeated Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win her second Roland Garros title.  Swiatek leads their head-to-head 6-0, having claimed all 12 sets they’ve contested.  Can Coco provide any real resistance on Wednesday?

In the other WTA quarterfinal, Ons Jabeur and Beatriz Haddad Maia vie to reach their first French Open semifinal.

On the men’s side, we have another prominent rematch from last year’s tournament.  A year ago in this same round, Casper Ruud eliminated Holger Rune in a contentious Scandinavian battle.  Yet in 2023, Rune has been the better player.  Who will prevail this time around?

And one year after the serious ankle injury Sascha Zverev suffered in the semifinals of this event, he looks to return to that round, and faces a surprising quarterfinalist in Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) vs. Ons Jabeur (7) – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

Jabeur is only 15-6 on the year, after missing time this season due to multiple leg injuries.  But she has rounded into strong form at a good time, dropping only one set to this stage.  This is the farthest Ons has ever advanced in Paris, as she plays for her third Major semifinal, all within the past year.

Haddad Maia had never previously advanced beyond the second round of a Slam, with an 0-7 record in that round.  Yet here she is in her first Major quarterfinal, on the surface where the least amount of previous success had come.  Beatriz has survived three consecutive three-setters, including an over three-and-half-hour one in the last round against Sara Sorribes Tormo.

These players met just two months ago in the same round on the same surface, with Jabeur easily prevailing 6-3, 6-0 in Stuttgart.  Ons will surely be the fresher player, and has an obviously huge edge in experience.  I like Jabeur’s chances of achieving her first Roland Garros semifinal.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

In their 12 aforementioned previous sets, most have not even been close.  Only one, their very first, has gone to a tiebreak, and Gauff has averaged just 2.4 games per set. 

Coco is also yet to play her best this year.  While her record of 23-8 is far from embarrassing, she had not reached a quarterfinal in three months before this fortnight.  She continues to tinker with her forehand and serve, and has made recent changes to her coaching team.

Swiatek is 32-6 this season, and has lost only nine games through four rounds, though she did receive an unfortunate retirement in the last round from an ill Lesia Tsurenko.  So while Gauff always remains a threat, a Coco upset on Wednesday would be a bit of a shock.

Sascha Zverev (22) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Zverev arrived in Paris with little form, and even admitted to feeling emotional returning to the scene where such a devastating injury happened a year ago.  But he has played excellently through four rounds, dropping just one set against his only opponent seeded higher than him (Tiafoe).  Sascha is playing for his third straight semifinal in Paris.

Before this year, Etcheverry had never won a match at a Major, and only owned four career victories at ATP level.  But the 23-year-old has won 19 tour-level matches this season, and reached two clay court finals (Santiago, Houston).  Tomas Martin is yet to drop a set this tournament, defeating three seeded players (de Minaur, Coric, Nishioka).

But in their first career meeting, Zverev is a huge favorite.  His power and experience should allow him to comfortably dictate matters on Wednesday.

Holger Rune (6) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Ruud got off to a modest start in 2023 after achieving his first two Major finals in 2022, and accumulating 51 match wins.  But he’s now 15-5 on clay this season, and took three tight sets from Nicolas Jarry in a straight-set fourth round match that lasted nearly four hours.  Casper is 2-0 in his previous Slam quarterfinals.

Rune has been on a tear since last fall, reaching seven ATP finals, and winning three of them.  That includes three clay finals within the last two months (Monte Carlo, Munich, Rome).  He survived a grueling round of 16 contest against Francisco Cerundolo, decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  This is Holger’s second Slam quarterfinal, after losing in four sets here a year ago to this same opponent. 

These two men exchanged words both at the net and in the locker room after that quarterfinal.  Casper, like many players, has voiced how immature he finds Holger’s on-court behavior to be.  Ruud won their first four meetings, but just two weeks ago in the semifinals of Rome, Rune came from behind to win in three.  All five of those matches took place on clay.

Holger appeared physically fatigued during much of his match on Monday against Cerundolo.  The outcome on Wednesday may heavily depend on his physical condition.  But if he’s feeling close to 100%, I give Rune the slight edge to achieve his first Major semifinal.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Tuesday Provides Some Blockbuster Quarterfinals



Karen Khachanov last week in Paris (

The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday in Paris.


The ATP singles quarterfinals on Tuesday are quite scintillating.  2022 US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz faces two-time Major runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and 22-time Slam champ Novak Djokovic plays Karen Khachanov, who is vying for his third consecutive Major semifinal.

And the WTA quarterfinals are far from shabby.  2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova takes on 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova.  And this year’s Aussie Open champ Aryna Sabalenka squares off against new mom Elina Svitolina, who is trying to overcome a painful past in French Open quarterfinals.

Karolina Muchova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova  – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

After injuries interrupted the last two years of her career, Muchova is now a strong 21-7 this season.  This is her fourth Major quarterfinal within the last four years, and her first in Paris.  Karolina has dropped one set to this stage, and upset eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the first round.

A knee injury caused Pavlyuchenkova to miss most of 2022, and she had a losing record in 2023 prior to this fortnight.  Before to her run to the final here two years ago, she was 0-6 in Slam quarterfinals.  Anastasia has won three consecutive three-setters over seeded players.

They’ve met three times on three different surfaces within the past four years.  Pavlyuchenkova won on hard court and clay, while Muchova won on grass.  But based on recent form, I favor Karolina to even their head-to-head and achieve her second Major semifinal.

Elina Svitolina vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

This will unfortunately be another matchup between Svitolina and a Russian or Belarussian player, where no handshake is expected after the match.  Hopefully the French crowd will refrain from booing that on Tuesday, as they have after Svitolina defeated Russia’s Anna Blinkova and Daria Kasatkina.

Outside of that, Svitolina’s run at this event has been inspiring.  Having become a mother less than eight months ago, and in just her fifth tour-level tournament since her return, she’s now on an eight-match win streak, after winning a title immediately prior to this event in Strasbourg.  But Elina is 0-3 in Roland Garros quarterfinals, having lost an especially heartbreaking one in 2017 to Simona Halep after being up a set and two breaks, and even holding a match point in the second set tiebreak.

Sabalenka continues to dominate this season.  She’s now 33-5, and 11-0 at Majors.  Aryna has not dropped a set through four rounds in Paris.  This is her best French Open performance to date, and Aryna is looking to achieve her fifth Major semifinal out of her last seven appearances.

They have split two previous encounters, both of which went to a third set.  However, their clay court matchup three years ago went to Svitolina.  Yet Sabalenka remains a considerable favorite to prevail on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Karen Khachanov (11) – Third on Court Philippe Chatrier

This is a 55th career Major quarterfinal for Djokovic, and he’s won 13 of his last 14, dating back five years.  The only loss during that span came here a year ago, when he was defeated by Rafael Nadal in four sets.  Novak is now 24-4 this year, and has won all 12 sets he’s played thus far in Paris.  He is looking for his 90th career win at Roland Garros.

This is a fifth career Major quarterfinal for Khachanov, but his third in a row after advancing to the semifinals in both New York and Melbourne.  He is 21-6 lifetime at the French Open, and 23-10 in 2023.  Karen played four more sets to reach this quarterfinal than Novak.

Their history has been quite one-sided, with Novak leading 8-1 overall, and 2-0 on clay.  Karen’s only victory came five years ago in this same city, though it was in the final of the hard court Paris Indoors, Khachanov’s biggest career title to date.  While Khachanov’s powerful groundstrokes could enable him to threaten Djokovic on Tuesday, and I’m not convinced Novak is 100% healthy or confident after struggling this clay court season, the 22-time Major champ remains a favorite to advance to his 12th semifinal at Roland Garros.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Alcaraz is 34-3 on the year, and easily dispatched of another one-handed backhand, Lorenzo Musetti, on Sunday.  He’s dropped one set in this tournament, during his second round contest with Taro Daniel.  Carlitos is vying for his second Slam semifinal, after winning the last Slam he played.

Tsitsipas is 29-8 this season, and also lost one set thus far.  And notably, the Greek is 6-0 in Major quarterfinals, having taken his last 12 sets he’s played.  Most impressively, that includes a two-sets-to-love comeback victory over Rafael Nadal, two years ago at the Australian Open.

However, Tsitsipas is 0-4 against Alcaraz, and 0-2 on clay.  When they met this past April in the final of Barcelona, Carlitos won in straight sets.  And while I expect Stefanos to make this an extremely tight contest, the World No.1 is still the favorite.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Round of 16 Concludes on Monday



Iga Swiatek this past week in Paris (

The singles quarterfinals will be set after Monday’s action in Paris.


Through three rounds, Iga Swiatek has been dominant, dropping only eight games across six sets, with four of those sets featuring a score 6-0.  But on Day 9, she faces a red-hot Lesia Tsurenko, who has already defeated two other Major champions this fortnight in Barbora Krejcikova and Bianca Andreescu.

Monday’s matches also feature two WTA finalists from last season at Slams: Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur.  ATP action is headlined by what should be two extremely competitive matchups between seeded players.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.

Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) – 11:00am on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Prior to this fortnight, Haddad Maia was 0-7 in the second round of Majors.  Her success outside the Majors had previously come on grass and hard courts, so this run on clay is a bit of a surprise.  Beatriz is now 20-11 this year on all surfaces, and won two consecutive three-setters to reach this stage for the first time in her career.

Sorribes Tormo was unfortunately part of a very controversial decision on Sunday, where her doubles opponent Miyu Kato was defaulted for unintentionally hitting a ball girl with a ball, and only after Sara and her partner Marie Bouzkova allegedly argued for the default to happen.  There’s been a huge backlash on social media regarding Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova’s behavior, which could easily impact her play on this day.  Sorribes Tormo won her first two singles matches in straight sets, before receiving a walkover in the last round from Elena Rybakina.  And Sara missed much of this season due to injury.

These players have split four previous meetings at all levels.  But on Monday, I favor the more aggressive game of Haddad Maia to prevail.

Holger Rune (6) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (23) – Second on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Rune is now 29-10 on the year, and looking to repeat as a quarterfinalist in Paris.  It was also in this city where his biggest title to date occurred, when he won the Paris Masters last November by upsetting Novak Djokovic in the final. 

This is the farthest Cerundolo has ever advanced at a Major.  In fact, prior to 2023, he had never won a match at a Major.  But he is a huge threat on this surface, and came back from a set down to upset Taylor Fritz in the last round.

They have never played at tour level, but four years ago at a Challenger tournament on clay, Francisco prevailed in straight sets.  However, a young Holger wasn’t even ranked inside the top 1,000 at the time.  In 2023, Rune is a significant favorite to achieve his second Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lesia Tsurenko – Third on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

As aforementioned, Swiatek has been in beatdown mode this fortnight.  Iga is 24-2 lifetime at the French Open, and vying for her third title within the last four years.  And after a slow start to this year by her high standard, she is now 31-6, and 15-2 on clay.

But Tsurenko is a dangerous fourth round draw.  She is 28-8 this year at all levels, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.  Her victories last week over Krejcikova and Andreescu were clinical.

Swiatek is 2-0 against Tsurenko, with both matches taking place within the past year on clay.  And both matches had the same score line: 6-2, 6-0.  While I expect a tighter contest on Monday given Lesia’s current level, Iga is still a heavy favorite.

Grigor Dimitrov (28) vs. Sascha Zverev (22) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Zverev may finally be rounding back into form a full year after the gruesome ankle injury he suffered here in Paris against Rafael Nadal.  He was just 17-14 this season before arriving in Paris, yet has only dropped one set thus far, which includes a strong four-set victory over 12th-seeded Frances Tiafoe.

Dimitrov has not dropped any sets through three matches.  And coming off his run to the final just a week ago in Geneva, he’s won six of his last seven contests.  This equals his best-ever result at Roland Garros, the only Major where he’s yet to reach a quarterfinal.

Zverev leads their head-to-head 3-1, and has taken their last three meetings, though only one of those occurred within the past seven years.  With Sascha’s confidence level growing match-by-match, I like his chances of winning on Monday.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Bernarda Pera vs. Ons Jabeur (7) – Jabeur is only 14-6 on the year, as she’s battled multiple leg injuries this season.  This is the only Major where she’s yet to advance beyond the fourth round.  Meanwhile, this is Pera’s first time in the fourth round of a Slam at the age of 28.  They have split two prior encounters at all levels.

Nicolas Jarry vs. Casper Ruud (4) – After a bad start to the year on hard courts, Ruud is now 14-5 on clay.  Jarry is 19-6 this season on clay, and is on an eight-match win streak, after taking the title in Geneva right before this tournament.  Nicolas beat Casper 7-5 in the third during that Geneva run, with Ruud claiming their only other meeting last season in Seoul on a hard court.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Gauff has already twice come back from a set down in her first three matches.  Schmiedlova is yet to drop a set on the way to her deepest progression at a Major to date.  Last year in Madrid, Coco defeated Anna Karolina by a score of 6-0, 6-2.

Tomas Martin Etcheverry vs. Yoshihito Nishioka (27) – This is Nishioka’s second consecutive advancement to the second week of a Major, and he played 14 sets in the first week.  This is Etcheverry’s best ever Slam result, and he did not drop a set in the first week.  This is their first meeting.

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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