Uncertainty Over Dates For Player Arrival In Australia

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

A day after Tennis Australia officials announced a consolidation of summer tournaments to be held in the state of Victoria as a means of combating coronavirus, word out of Australia now is that the country’s government will not allow pro tennis players to enter the country in December as many were planning to do because of mandatory quarantine restrictions. Just what does this mean for the Australian Open and the lead-in tournaments? During Tuesday’s “Tennis Channel Live,” presenter Steve Weissman and analysts Paul Annacone and Jim Courier discussed the matter.

Meanwhile, early Wednesday, Australia’s “The Age” reported: “Fresh doubts have emerged about the timing of January’s Australian Open in Melbourne with the Victorian government still to finalize the precise quarantine requirements for international tennis stars arriving from overseas.

“A communication from the men’s ATP Tour to players overnight Tuesday confirmed that there were ‘some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members.'”

WTA releases year-end rankings

Although Ashleigh Barty of Australia played in just four tournaments in 2020 and none after Doha in February, she retained her hold on the WTA’s No. 1 year-end singles ranking. Barty won one tournament, in Adelaide, and reached the semifinals in two others (Australian Open and Doha). Simona Halep finished ranked No. 2, US Open champion Naomi Osaka was No. 3, Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin finished No. 4, and Elina Svitolina was No. 5.

Meanwhile, Hsieh Su-Wei holds the WTA’s No. 1 year-end doubles ranking for the first time. She and her partner, Barbora Strycova won four titles (Brisbane, Dubai, Doha and Rome) and finished runner-up at the Australian Open.

Nadal, Thiem dealing with life in the tennis bubble

Among many questions that Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have fielded during their virtual press conferences at the Nitto ATP Finals in London have been how each has handled physical and mental challenges of life in the “tennis bubble”. Here’s a sampling of what each had to say:

• Rafael Nadal: “Well, I tell you one thing: The world is suffering a lot, so we are very lucky that we can play tennis. That’s the real feeling that I have.

“So, it is true that it’s more boring and a little bit tougher mentally than normal because you can’t be with the family, you can’t be going out for dinner and district a little bit of the routine, but I repeat I can’t complain and we’ can’t complain at all.

“The only thing that we can say is thanks to life that we can keep doing our job, and thanks that we have a great organization and a great tour behind us. Grand Slams, ATP, Masters 1000s, they are working hard, and a lot of them losing money to keep running the tour. So, they are making big efforts. From the player perspective, the only thing we can say is thanks.”

 Dominic Thiem: “Well, I mean, physically I think it’s the easiest year in a long time. [Sunday] was my 30th match on tour, which is not a big number, but mentally it is tough because, I mean, you get so much energy from the fans. If you go in the stadium, if you have a huge win like today and you get the atmosphere from 17,000 people, it brings so much positive energy, and all of this is missing.

“You have to bring it up yourself during the match. I think today was like two hours 20 or something. You have all the time to push yourself, give yourself energy.

“Yeah, that’s exhausting. And as well, if you have a long day and then you go in a great city like London or New York, the city as well gives you nice energy, nice restaurants, hanging out with the people you love.

“All of this is gone somehow right now, so that makes it difficult. .Well, I mean, we are all still grateful that these big events are happening. I mean, we are privileged to be able to do our job, to play those tournaments. So, I guess we will, as long as this strange situation is going on, I guess we will have to deal with it.”

Why Djokovic does his celebration ritual with no fans

After he won his first match at the Nitto ATP Finals in London on Monday, Novak Djokovic was asked about the strangeness of playing without fans in London and also why he still does his celebration ritual of turning in all four directions around an arena and throwing hearts. He said: “My mindset hasn’t changed much in terms of my approach to the match and what I need to do and how I focus.

“But I do miss the crowd. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of professional tennis of why we play this game and why we travel so much. 

“You know, hopefully this is only temporary. It’s unfortunate that there is no crowd in the O2 Arena for the last year of the ATP Finals here. This has been one of the most exciting arenas to play for a tennis player. The atmosphere was always electric, and the crowd was always loud and really into matches. It’s unfortunate, I really miss them, of course probably as anybody else. 

“Why I celebrated? Because that’s my celebration. I mean, that’s also y gratitude to the court and to this opportunity to be able to compete. You know, even though it might sound like a phrase, but I try to remind myself that don’t take things for granted, and that’s kind of one of the routines that reminds me of the things that I have to be aware of. 

“So, even though there was no crowd in the stands, I know there was a lot of people watching it on TV. So, that was me sharing that emotion with them.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Maria Sakkari / SakkAttack

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Carla Suarez Navarro / Thank you for the messages of encouragement

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova / Preseason vibes