Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena is the centre court for the Australian Open. (File photo: AFP/John Donegan)

MELBOURNE - AFP
Tennis: 'New challenges' hit Australian Open warm-up events

Lead-up events to the 2021 Australian Open tennis Grand Slam were thrown into doubt on Wednesday (Nov 18) after organisers flagged "new challenges" around players arriving in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message to players, the ATP, the men's tennis tour, said arrivals originally planned for December were now uncertain, potentially disrupting the packed January schedule.

With players facing a 14-day quarantine, any delay could make it difficult to hold the high-profile ATP Cup and other tournaments before the Australian Open's scheduled start on Jan 18 in Melbourne.

"In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members," read the ATP's message, which was tweeted by world number 193 Lukas Lacko.

"We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events," the ATP added.

International travel to Australia is still tightly controlled, and all overseas arrivals must quarantine for two weeks, while individual states also have their own coronavirus restrictions.

It's also unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine.

Tennis Australia on Monday flagged plans to move warm-up events from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra to the state of Victoria, to mitigate the impact of any possible state border closures.

But Victoria's state premier Dan Andrews said the move was "not a done deal", particularly since Melbourne only recently emerged from a months-long lockdown.

Australia has been relatively successful in containing the virus, with just over 27,700 cases and 907 deaths recorded since the pandemic began.

But an outbreak in South Australia, which neighbours Victoria, triggered a six-day lockdown on Wednesday as officials rushed to contain a cluster in Adelaide.

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