November 29, 2021

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A week of tennis insanity in store for Melbourne Park

WTA

Photo: Tennis Australia/David Mariuz

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MELBOURNE, Australia – The ATP Cup.

THREE WTA tournaments.

Two ATP events.

All going on basically at the same time on the same site.

Add to that players practicing and preparing for the Australian Open, which takes place the very next week.

Every player who is in the main draw for the big event will be in action next week at Melbourne Park in some form.

And the unexpected hard quarantines have added an extra twist to the proceedings. A total of 26 female players – including Canadians Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez – who were hit with that added challenge have been separated out into a third event.

A nice bit of … normalcy in Melbourne

That one, also a 500-level with the same points, but significantly less prize money (and one round less for most players), will begin a little later in the week.

And before all that begins, there will be the exhibition Friday from Adelaide featuring Djokovic, Nadal, Serena and Venus, Ashleigh Barty and Dominic Thiem.

That one will have a day session starting at 1:30 p.m. Friday (Thursday evening at 9:30 p.m. EST) and a night session (in the middle of the night back home).

Take a deep breath, the tennis will swam you

Here’s the schedule (subject to change) of all the events that will be going on first in Adelaide, and then at Melbourne Park.

WTA

No joke, the week will be more action packed than the Grand Slam that follows. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see something like this again.

“Super Slam” notes

The excitedly-named “Super Slam” of tennis that will happen in Adelaide Friday will, according to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, be full to a … 75 per cent capacity. Yikes.

This is … a lot. Tennis fans will have to wear shades.

Tiley also said that the tickets had sold out in mere minutes.

Fans will need to wear a mask when lining up for food, lining up to get into the site and, presumably, lining up for the bathrooms. But they won’t need to wear them when sitting in their seats.

Novak Djokovic will be among the headliners Friday in Adelaide. (Tennis Australia/David Mariuz)

Adjustments on the WTA side

After they decided to separate out the women who were on the affected flights and had been in full quarantine, the tournament added a wild card to each of the original 500s, for a total of four each. They’ve also slightly reduced each draw.

Friday afternoon (4 p.m. AEDT), the wild cards will be randomly assigned ot each event. The unified doubles entry list will also be split in two.

Players can play the “hard quarantine” tournament in singles and one of the other WTA 500s in doubles.

The prize money for the new “Grampians Trophy” will be $247,020 US, or roughly what a 250-level tournament would offer in non-pandemic times.

The prize money for each of the original 500 tournaments is $442,020.

ATP Cup notes

The entire ATP Cup was pushed back a day earlier on because of the players in hard quarantine. Instead of the original Monday to Friday, it will now run Tuesday through Saturday.

The tickets went on sale Thursday – $20 flat rate for the group stages.

Tickets for the semifinals and finals are $40. You won’t get a better deal and still get into Rod Laver Arena (even a first-round massacre match by the top seeds costs more than that).

Great Ocean / Murray River notes

The ATP hasn’t separated out the players who have had to hard quarantine into another event.

But it has pushed back the start of its two ATP 250 events to Monday, from Sunday. It also has increased the draw sizes to 56.

And, we’re told, the players who have had to hard quarantine won’t have to play their first matches until Tuesday.

All five events will be played in the “Margaret Court Arena” zone, with that stadium as the centre court and the rest of the matches played on all the field courts in that area. Feels like those are going to be long days.

It will also be interesting to see who gets scheduled on Margaret Court, which will have day and night sessions every day except the first (Jan. 31) and the last (Feb. 7).

In theory, the women’s events are of a “higher level” than the mens.

Prize money commitment for the “Great Ocean Road Open” is $382.575 US, and for the “Murray River Open” it’s $320,775 US.

Through Wednesday, the value of a $20 ticket for the men’s and women’s tournaments at Melbourne Park will be off the charts.

Tickets start at $20. It appears that gives the fans access to the big matches on MCA as well as all the field courts. Crazy value.

Through Wednesday, the ducats are at that $20 level for all seats (all figures AUD).

By Thursday, they range from $50 – $160. On Friday, the range is $60 – $180.

Tickets on Saturday and Sunday range from $110 – $220.

No doubt, by then, there will be a star or two spotted on the practice courts as well.