February As Most Likely Time Frame For Australian Open?

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, reporting Sunday, early February is emerging as the most likely time frame for the Australian Open to be played in 2021. However, the Grand Slam’s primary broadcaster, Australia’s Channel Nine, prefers for the major to go ahead in January as scheduled.

Right now, the fate of the Australian Open appears to be in the hands of Victorian premier Daniel Andrews. However, it seems according to the newspaper, his hardline approach to quarantine is dividing both World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Regardless, tournament planning is in a bit of chaos at the moment.

Nadal said after losing in the semifinals of the Nitto ATP Finals in London on Saturday that tennis players were not in a position to dictate to the Victoria state government on any of the restrictions it places on players or tournaments taking place in Victoria, where Melbourne is located. Earlier in the week, Djokovic pleaded for players to be able to compete during the second week of their 14-day quarantine.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a source with knowledge of the weekend’s “urgent talks” between Tennis Australia, the governing body overseeing the Australian Open, and health authorities, said it’s likely the Australian Open would be delayed by one or two weeks from its January 18 scheduled starting date, with February 1 as a possible date for beginning the 2021 fortnight.

Meanwhile, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said in a statement his organization “is doing everything we can to finalize the summer of tennis as soon as possible.

“Our intention is to deliver a summer in conditions that allow the players to prepare and perform at their best and the fans to enjoy their efforts – all in an environment that is safe for all concerned,” he said.

A stumbling block between Tennis Australia and Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews has been working out quarantine issues because the government doesn’t want players arriving in Australia before January 1. With a 14-day quarantine in managed isolation mandatory, it might mean players would have a very short period of time to train before matches begin.

“We are working closely with the Victorian Government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff and is of major benefit to the Victorian and Australian economies,” Tiley said.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon.”

Medvedev: Beating Thiem was ‘toughest victory’

Daniil Medvedev on beating Dominic Thiem to win the Nitto ATP Finals title: “I think it was the toughest victory in my life because Dominic is a really tough player to play. I think today he was at his best. Maybe it’s not the case, but that’s what I felt during the match. He was really close to winning it [in the] second set. I managed to stay there.

“I felt in the third set that I was really tired physically, for sure, but I felt like he started to miss some balls, he started to run a little bit slower because he was tired.

“To make Dominic tired in a three-set match, not a five-set, I think is a great achievement. All these small things, Dominic is playing as [of] today [as] one of the best players in the history [of the sport], not yet maybe by the titles and Grand Slams, but as I say, playing [with the form of] today.”

More Medvedev: ‘Unbelievable’ level last two matches

After beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in group play and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, what could Daniil Medvedev do for an encore? How about beat World No. 3 Dominic Thiem to win the Nitto ATP Finals title? “My level of game here, especially [in] the last two matches I won [was] just unbelievable. It can give me a lot for my future career,” Medvedev said Sunday evening during his virtual press conference.

“To beat Dominic the way he played today and to manage to beat him is probably my best victory of my life. Not even talking about the title itself. I mean, to win the Nitto ATP Finals, being undefeated, honestly, I know I can play good, but I would not believe it if you would tell me this before the tournament. So, [this is] a great boost of confidence for all the Slams coming up and all the tournaments. Hopefully, I can continue this way.”

Thiem: Medvedev was the ‘best player’

Although Dominic Thiem didn’t win the Nitto ATP Final championship trophy, he can take solace in that he lost to the tournament’s best player, Daniil Medvedev. “Probably, if you look at the whole tournament, he was the best player. He didn’t lose a set in the group stage. Beat No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world in the semis and in the final, so he definitely deserved that title.”

More Thiem: 2020 was a special year

After the trophy ceremony, Dominic Thiem was in a reflective mood during his virtual press conference. “When the tennis world, our job came back – I mean, luckily it came back – everything was different with life in the bubble, playing without [a] crowd,” he said. “There were many, many new experiences. I think it is still a very tough year for many, many people. We athletes, and I’m speaking of tennis players, we are very privileged to do our jobs.

“If I speak about the tennis, if I speak about my job, I mean, it has been an outstanding year. I have reached one of my big lifetime goals with winning that Grand Slam [the US Open].

“So, even though it’s a tough year, it will always have a special place in my heart this year, 100 percent.”

Happy 77th Birthday, Billie Jean King

What they’re writing

Kevin Mitchell, tennis correspondent, The Guardian of London, from Daniil Medvedev wins ATP Finals title after comeback floors Dominic Thiem:

“Daniil Medvedev is the king of tennis until someone proves otherwise, because his 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 win over the world No 3 and US Open champion Dominic Thiem to lift the ATP Tour Finals trophy left the game’s best players, young and old, in a heap at his feet.

The 24-year-old Russian did what nobody has done here since Roger Federer 10 years ago: defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal on the way to victory – and what nobody has done since David Nalbandian in 2007, by sweeping away the top three players in the world. He is also the sixth winner in six years. Change has arrived.”