Blockbuster six-tournament week about to kick off in Melbourne

Blockbuster six-tournament week about to kick off in Melbourne

Other than the ATP Cup, the tournaments are all named after key regions in the Australian state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital.

The 2021 season officially began a few weeks ago, with stops in Abu Dhabi, Antalya and Delray Beach. But now, after a mandatory quarantine period for everyone coming into Australia, the tours will kick into high gear with six—yes, six—tournaments to be held in Melbourne over the next week.

Three ATP and three WTA events will be held simultaneously at Melbourne Park, the site of the Australian Open, the week before the first Grand Slam tournament of the season kicks off. With so much tennis going on in one week at one venue, things can get a little confusing. But with some unique, regionally-inspired tournament names, hopefully it’ll be easier to tell every event apart.

The tournaments have been named to recognize key regions of the Australian state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, as the Melbourne Summer Series and Australian Open promote the reinvigoration of the state following the challenges faced due to both bushfires and COVID-19.

The ATP events: ATP Cup, Great Ocean Road Open, Murray River Open

Now in its second year, the ATP Cup is a team event that will feature nine of the ATP’s Top 10: No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Dominic Thiem, No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, No. 8 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Diego Schwartzman and No. 10 Matteo Berrettini. Only No. 5 Roger Federer is missing, as he continues to recover from a right knee injury. The ATP Cup will be a five-day event running from Tuesday, February 2 to Saturday, February 6.

Meanwhile, a pair of seven-day ATP 250-level events will run from Monday, February 1 to Sunday, February 7, with some very big names—including four Top 20 players—among the entrants.

The Great Ocean Road Open ("Melbourne 1") will be headlined by two Top 20 players, No. 14 David Goffin and No. 20 Karen Khachanov. It’s not technically a new event, as it replaces a 250 event from last year, in Adelaide, which was held the week before the Australian Open and won by Rublev.

The Murray River Open ("Melbourne 2") is a brand new event and features another two Top 20 players in No. 18 Stan Wawrinka and No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov, as well as former No. 13 Nick Kyrgios.

Both ATP events are named after major geographical features in the region. The Great Ocean Road is a 243-kilometer stretch of road along the southeastern coast of Australia, dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I (it’s the world’s largest war memorial). The Murray River is the longest river in Australia, at 2,508 kilometers in length, and it forms the border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, as it flows into the neighboring state of South Australia to the west.


Angelique Kerber jumped into the Yarra River after winning the 2016 Australian Open. (Getty Images)

The WTA events: Yarra Valley Classic, Gippsland Trophy, Grampians Trophy

All three of the women’s tournaments will be WTA 500 events—formerly known as Premier events. The Yarra Valley Classic and Gippsland Trophy will run from Sunday, January 31 to Saturday, February 6, while the Grampians Trophy will go from Wednesday, February 3 to Sunday, February 7.

Of the three tournament names, one of them in particular might jump out to anyone who’s followed the Australian Open. The Yarra Valley Classic is named after the eponymous region surrounding the Yarra River, which some players have been known to jump into after winning the tournament as a celebration. The Yarra River originates approximately 240 kilometers east of the Melbourne central business district and flows towards it, and then out into Port Phillip Bay.

Meanwhile, the Gippsland Trophy is named after Gippsland, a rural region of Victoria located to the east of the eastern suburbs of Greater Melbourne, and the Grampians Trophy is named after the Grampians, another rural region located northwest of the western suburbs of Greater Melbourne.

The Yarra Valley Classic will see the return of No. 1-ranked Ashleigh Barty, who hasn’t played since last February. No. 4 Sofia Kenin and both Williams sisters are also among an absolutely packed roster.

No. 2 Simona Halep and No. 3 Naomi Osaka highlight the field at the Gippsland Trophy, with No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka and her 15-match winning streak also in the draw. The third event, the Grampians Trophy, sees the return of No. 8 Bianca Andreescu, who hasn’t played since 2019.