“Actually, I don’t know if it’s been fluid. It’s been crazy.”
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley was candid during an interview with Tennis Channel, as he prepares to oversee 1,270 international arrivals into Australia next week. During his segment Thursday evening, Tiley dove into the complexities of preparing to stage a month’s worth of tournaments Down Under in a country that has done exceptionally well to mitigate COVID-19.
Earlier this week, there was concern when a partner hotel, The Westin Melbourne, backed out after owners of penthouse apartments situated above the property threatened legal action. Tiley and his team have grown accustomed to facing curve balls and ultimately resolved the situation.
“Our priority is in issues management,” he said. “We get up really early, go to bed really late. That’s probably been the biggest challenge for us, what’s next?”
Of note, Tiley also cleared up rumors about a second city accommodating player quarantining. In approaching the capacity set by the Victorian government, Tennis Australia needed to ensure the agreed upon number was not exceeded. Enter Adelaide, a city that will host the Top 3 players on both the ATP and WTA tours.
“We approached the South Australian government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people. But they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it, because there’s no benefit to them to put their whole community at risk,” explained Tiley. “But it would be a benefit if there was an exhibition just before Melbourne. So we chose the Top 3 men and Top 3 women and they’ll play an exhibition on the 29th and 30th of January.
“The conditions of the quarantine will be the same. They’ll be in a different hotel and a smaller cohort, and travel direct to Adelaide. We think this is a great opportunity to actually launch before we go into the season.”
As part of Tiley’s grand vision, he expects Melbourne Park to welcome fans at 50 to 75 percent of its normal capacity. Tournaments begin February 1 with two WTA 500 events, two ATP 250 events and a 12-team ATP Cup that boasts 14 of the Top 15. The Australian Open kicks off February 8.
“We’re hoping when you look at the Australian Open in February, there’s a lot of normalcy to it.”