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Novak Djokovic pleads with Dan Andrews to allow Australian Open players to practice in quarantine

Novak Djokovic has issued an impassioned plea to Daniel Andrews to allow players to train for the Australian Open while in quarantine.

Mr Andrews on Monday cast fresh doubt over the 2021 Open going ahead as scheduled on January 18-31 amid reports overseas players would not be allowed into Victoria in December.

Tennis Australia has been sweating for months on the Victorian and Australian governments allowing players to quarantine in a special training hub with their restricted entourages in Melbourne from mid-December. 

Djokovic called on Mr Andrews to allow players to compete before the Australian Open while undertaking their mandatory two-week quarantine.

Novak Djokovic (pictured with the Australian Open trophy on Rod Laver Arena after winning the 2020 Australian Open) has begged for players to be allowed to play tennis while in quarantine in Australia

Novak Djokovic (pictured with the Australian Open trophy on Rod Laver Arena after winning the 2020 Australian Open) has begged for players to be allowed to play tennis while in quarantine in Australia

‘I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine,’ he told reporters at the ATP Finals in London.

‘I mean, hopefully that’s going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything, and you won’t be then losing a week.

‘You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important.

‘Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a Grand Slam, is a huge thing.’

A training hub for tennis stars would allow the traditional lead-up events, including the multi-city ATP Cup, to be shifted from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide to Melbourne while some state borders remain closed. 

Mr Andrews said he’s confident the tennis tournament will proceed – but it remains to be seen how many international stars will compete as confusion reigns over quarantine requirements.

Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena Ristic) said it is important for players to have the opportunity to compete before the Australian Open

Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena Ristic) said it is important for players to have the opportunity to compete before the Australian Open

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew said on Monday that the Australian Open proceeding in 2021 was 'not a done deal'

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew said on Monday that the Australian Open proceeding in 2021 was ‘not a done deal’

Open tournament director Craig Tiley has categorically ruled out the Open being staged if players were forced into two weeks of hard quarantine before the season-opening grand slam.

Premier Andrews’ claim on Monday that the Open proceeding was ‘not a done deal’ prompted the ATP to issue a concerning memo to its representatives including superstars Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and defending champion Djokovic.

‘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,’ the men’s governing body said.

‘We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.

‘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 to players.’

Authorities are working out when players will arrive to play the Australian Open. Pictured: Novak Djokovic hits a backhand ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in January

Authorities are working out when players will arrive to play the Australian Open. Pictured: Novak Djokovic hits a backhand ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in January

Mr Andrews said the safety of Victorians is his number one priority and endorsed plans for a ‘bubble’ to separate the public from tennis players during the event. 

TA is understood to be frustrated by the Victorian Government’s approach, especially after Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday endorsed the Open going ahead as planned in its existing time slot.

Premier Andrews on Wednesday said negotiations and planning were ‘incredibly complex’.

‘It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly,’ he told reporters.

‘We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working (with) all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.’ 

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