MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) – Ahead of the Australian Open, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will play in a pre-Australian Open warm-up exhibition in Adelaide. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic too will join them for the exhibition. All the players will serve their quarantine in the South Australian city, Tennis Australia (TA) said on Saturday.
The “A Day at the Drive” event will take place at the city’s Memorial Drive Tennis Centre on Jan. 29, a week before Grand Slam commences at Melbourne Park.
U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem has been confirmed to take part in the exhibition along with Ash Barty and Simona Halep who are part of an eight member team, informed Craig Tiley, Director of the Australian Open tournament
Adelaide will also host a WTA tour 500 level event, the Adelaide International, in the week after the Australian Open as TA look to give players every opportunity to compete after travelling Down Under and isolating for two weeks.
“These two tournaments are a real coup for South Australia,” state Premier Steven Marshall said in a news release.
“This is a real show of support for the way that South Australia has managed the COVID-19 pandemic and underlines our ability to attract world-class events.”
Melbourne will also host other warm-up tournaments, including a shortened version of the ATP Cup involving Nadal, Djokovic and Thiem, before the Australian Open.
All the players and entourages that arrive in Australia from Jan. 15 will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine as part of COVID-19 health protocols for the Asia-Pacific Grand Slam. The players will be allowed five hours a day outside their hotel rooms to train during their mandatory isolation.
France’s Jeremy Chardy, ranked 72nd in the world, was not happy with the decision on the Adelaide tournament and feared that top players isolating in the city would benefit from extra privileges.
“This announcement for the top threes is a bit out of the blue, and it’s weird, to put it mildly,” Chardy told media.
“They will even be able to benefit from a gym at the hotel and will be able to do their exercises, which will not count towards the five-hour quota.”