How will Australian Open and Indian Wells impact 2021 tennis calendar?

How will Australian Open and Indian Wells impact 2021 tennis calendar?

As Tennis Australia works with the Victorian government to firm a launch date for the first Grand Slam event of the season, calendar rumblings have continued heating up.

Last week, Reuters reported that the WTA intends to begin its 2021 season on January 4, away from Australia. Multiple outlets stated that Australian Open qualifying would likely need to take place outside of the country, before bringing competitors to Melbourne for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Over the weekend, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and Tennis Channel tweeted that the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells was all but certain not to happen in March, though later clarified rescheduling was still a viable option on the table for tournament organizers.

As Tennis Australia works with the Victorian government to finalize a start date (February 8 looking likely) for the first Grand Slam event of the season, calendar rumblings have continued heating up.

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On Wednesday, Wertheim shared a range of source material in his weekly SI Mailbag column. Among the “moving targets” included the possibility of staging a streamlined ATP Cup the week before the Australian Open, and putting on an additional dual event during the second week of the Happy Slam. With nothing yet confirmed for January 4, Wertheim disclosed that Delray Beach was interested in moving up from mid-February.

Postponement, rather than outright cancellation, for Indian Wells was also reiterated, with the tours eager to fill in the two open weeks should that be finalized. One tournament that is already eyeing one of those slots is the indoor-hard event in Marseille, currently slated to run against the second week of the Australian Open if Melbourne's three-week delay is confirmed.

In a translated statement posted to its website Tuesday, the ATP 250 tournament said, “The Open 13 Provence is likely to take place in March from 8 to 14. Everything will depend on whether Indian Wells is maintained or not.”

A week ago, The ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament tweeted, “we assume that a good solution will be found,” in reference to Tennis Australia’s intention of pushing back the Slam it oversees into Rotterdam’s scheduled week of February 8. The ATP 500-level event has crowned champions such as Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer throughout its rich history dating back to 1974.

Should Indian Wells come off the schedule for a later date, it leads to one important domino in line: Miami.

As of now, the fellow combined 1000 tournament isn't saying much. But should the second half of the Sunshine Double decide to follow in the footsteps of its California peer, that course of action would greatly help simplify calendar restructuring. March would be open to a variety of tour-level tournaments in Europe, Middle East and South America, providing options on hard and clay courts.

However, unlike Indian Wells, a push to the fall months could prove problematic for the Miami Open, as its venue, Hard Rock Stadium, will be occupied by the NFL's Miami Dolphins and NCAA's Miami Hurricanes.