Roger Federer and Serena Williams were among the entries announced on Thursday for the coronavirus-disrupted Australian Open, with tournament director Craig Tiley vowing a “happy Slam” after months of painstaking planning.
All the world’s top players have signed on, led by World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty.
There was a question mark over Swiss great Federer, who warned this month he was in a “race against time” to be fit after two rounds of knee surgery. But he has begun training in Dubai and was among those entered to play at Melbourne Park as he targets a seventh title.
US superstar Williams, who like Federer turns 40 next year, is also committed as she once again attempts to pull level with Margaret Court as a 24-time Grand Slam champion. Her last triumph at the Majors came in Australia in 2017 when she was pregnant.
The opening Grand Slam of the year, which will be played in front of at least 50 percent of normal crowds, has been pushed back three weeks until February 8. All players must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival, during which they will constantly be tested for COVID-19 but allowed to train for five hours a day in a bio-secure bubble.
The men’s and women’s qualifiers will be held in Doha and Dubai respectively from January 10-13, with players arriving in Melbourne from January 15 on special charter flights.
A slimmed-down, 12-team ATP Cup, the relocated Adelaide International, and a ATP 250 tournament will all be played in Melbourne once players are out of isolation.