Tennis: COVID-19 cloud hangs over Australian Open as Victorian Government refuses players December quarantine exemption

Serious doubts surround the Australian Open in January, with the Victorian Government refusing to allow international players into the state next month. 

Premier Daniel Andrews is also refusing to give a guarantee that overseas players will be able to practice while in their two-week COVID-19 quarantine stint. 

Andrews says the state has done a great job eradicating a serious coronavirus wave that forced a near three-month lockdown, ending earlier this month.

With many of the world's top players coming from some of the most infectious regions on the planet, Andrews isn't willing to risk community transmission, regardless of the safety protocols Tennis Australia has guaranteed. 

The earliest players will be permitted into the state is January, which could force Tennis Australia to scrap two planned warm-up tournaments before the January 18 start date for the year's first Grand Slam. 

The Australian reports superstars Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are unlikely to travel under those circumstances, which could cause a domino effect among stars of both the men's and women's tours.

"Tennis Australia continues to work closely with the Victorian Government on staging the Australian Open," it says. 

"The health and safety of the community, the players and all involved in the event has always been our top priority, and we recognise the incredible effort and the sacrifices all Victorians have made to contain COVID-19."

The report says the state Government knocked back a request from Tennis Australia for more than 2000 players and support staff to land in Melbourne in early December, serve their two-week quarantines and be free to play in the two Melbourne-based tournaments in the two weeks preceding January 18. 

Instead, players will be permitted into Melbourne from New Year's Eve, which would give them just four days' preparation before the Open. 

With the ATP and WTA locking in tight schedules in the face of another pandemic-affected year, The Australian reports the game's governing bodies are unlikely to reschedule the Aussie Open to February or March. 

While Andrews wants the Open to go ahead as planned, he insists the health and safety of the public is his priority.