Foreign Championships – Next week, Belinda Bensic and Stan Wawrinka will enter the competition for the first time this year. Preparatory tournaments for the Australian Open under a special star.
At least, the Australian Open on February 8th promises something like normality. Up to 50 percent of the spectator seats must be filled at this year’s first Grand Slam tournament, and players and their coaches are allowed to move freely, that is, not in a bubble. Richard Gasquet was one of the first to come out of quarantine. “The first thing I look forward to is having a meal in the restaurant,” said the French. “They are all locked up at home. I’m so happy to be in Australia.”
In fact, Gasquet is one of the lucky ones, because after his arrival – like Stan Wawrinka and Jill Tishman – he was allowed to go into “soft” quarantine and out five hours a day to train. The 72 players – including Belinda Bencic and Henri Laaksonen – were not allowed to leave their hotel room for 14 days because they were on one of the three charter flights that tested travelers tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival. But her ordeal must be over by Friday at the latest.
In Melbourne itself, life will seem relatively normal, as there have been no positive cases in the state capital of Victoria for 22 days. Accordingly, there will be spectators on the courts at the start of the Australian tennis summer.
Next week will be abnormal again. For the first time in the history of the sport, there will be no fewer than three official men’s and three women’s championships in the same location: the ATP Cup with twelve countries, and two ATP tournaments in the 250th category with players not part of the ATP Cup, plus three WTA 500 Championships – all in the same week at the facility in Melbourne Park.
Wawrinka is at the top
Jill Tishman (WTA 57) will be the first Swiss woman to fight for the WTA points in the so-called Gippsland Cup. The left-wing Biel player will face first-class opponents such as Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Jelena Sweetulina and Arena Sabalinka in the tournament that starts on Sunday.
The Grampian Cup starts on Wednesday only to give athletes affected by the strict quarantine the longest preparation time possible. Belinda Bensick (WTA 12) is the No.2 behind Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 US Open winner from Canada.
Men whose tournaments begin on Monday are not awarded a closed season. With all of the top ten players who have traveled to Australia participating in the ATP Cup, Belgian David Goffin (ATP 16) and 35-year-old Stan Wawrinka (ATP 18) from Vaud take first place in the two events. According to the newspaper, the stiffest opponents of the 2014 Australian Open are Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliasim and Purna Koric.
There have been no complaints about quarantine from Adelaide. The Trick: In the South Australian capital, big stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Ashley Party, Osaka and Halep have a spot. As a thank you to them, they held an exhibition there on Friday before moving to Melbourne.
How many spectators will be allowed into the stadiums is still the subject of negotiations with the authorities. Tennis Australia sold tickets for 35 percent of capacity, but still hoped to increase tickets to 50 percent.