Australian Open chief admits coronavirus have changed tennis

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AUSTRALIAN Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley admits the picture are not looking too rosy for the hard-court Grand Slam over the next few years, warning that they need to manage risks, cash flow and players’ expectations.

  The Australian Open has always been one of the most-highly rated tennis events with Tiley often receiving high praise from players.

  However, much like all sporting tournaments across the globe, the tournament will be forced to make drastic changes in terms of health and safety protocols as well as prize money due to the coronavirus.

  Although they are confident that the 2021 Australian Open will take place at Melbourne Park with most top players set to compete, Tiley concedes it will be a “different” tournament not just next year, but for the foreseeable future.

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  “I’m of the view that these current adjustments will last longer than we think,” he told Daily Mail.

  “We are already talking about different (Australian Open) scenarios for 2022, because we don’t think we will be repeating 2020 (the ‘normal’ Grand Slam event which took place in January) until at least 2023 or 2024.

  “That’s how we are managing our risks and our cash flow. Professionally we need to be realistic and manage players’ expectations on money and opportunity and make sure that events can be sustainable for the future.”

  There has been good news in recent days about a vaccine potentially becoming available before the end of 2020, but Tiley admits that many tennis tournaments won’t survive because of COVID-19.

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  “The reality is the money that is going to be available will be significantly compromised,” he said.

  “I think the stronger events will survive, and those that were carrying a heavy financial load will not. It’s unrealistic to think that it’s not going to change. Even if you had a vaccine in March it is still going to be challenging for half of next year.

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