Australian Open 2021: Tough quarantine rules enhance grand slam prospects of Nick Kyrgios, Ash Barty

Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios will be among a posse of local hopefuls primed to perform when an abridged summer of tennis begins in Melbourne on February 1.

The top Aussies can train and move around Melbourne with freedom while international stars deal with the harshest quarantine they have faced since the tour resumed.

The challenge for Barty and Kyrgios will be to ensure they are match hardened to fire from the opening day of February when Melbourne will host four tournaments in a week.

The goal is to end a local drought for Australian players dating back to Chris O’Neil’s success in 1978 and Mark Edmondson’s bolt from the blue two years earlier. It is far from easy.

Ash Barty has already well advanced in her Australian Open preparations.Source:Supplied

Lleyton Hewitt reached a final in 2005. Pat Rafter was a semi-finalist in 2001. And Barty reached the last four for the first time in Melbourne in January when edged by eventual champion Sofia Kenin.

The world No 1 has not played since reaching the semifinals of a tournament in Qatar in February, having placed an emphasis on protecting the health of herself and team through the pandemic.

Kyrgios dazzled on and off the court in January, showing signs of maturity and a willingness to embrace responsibility, with his fundraising feats for bushfire victims widely applauded.

But the Canberran, who performed well in the ATP Cup and reached the last 16 of the Australian Open, has not played since retiring from a match in Mexico in late February.

The 2021 Australian Open will be going ahead on February 8 in Melbourne with international stars to enter hotel quarantine under special conditions….

The 2021 Australian Open will be going ahead on February 8 in Melbourne with international stars to enter hotel quarantine under special conditions.

Expect both to be hungry to succeed, feeling as fresh as they have felt in years and ready to hit the ground running.

Their preparations are well underway. Barty has been on court in Brisbane with coach Craig Tyzzer since the week leading into the AFL grand final played at the Gabba.

Kyrgios will be a member of the Australian team competing in an abridged version of the ATP Cup featuring 12 teams instead of the 24 which featured in the inaugural event.

Australia’s top ranked man, Alex de Minaur, who is still with his family in Spain, will be among those who have to quarantine.

Nick Kyrgios hasn’t played since the end of February.Source:Getty Images

Expect Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, and Kyrgios, a dual-grand slam quarterfinalist, to be playing dozens of sets in practice when preparing for the three-week local season.

There is a prospect they will also be able to engage in some regular match play leading into the first week of February, where Barty will be top seed in one of the two WTA Tour tournaments.

Over the past six months Tennis Australia has hosted Universal Tennis Rating round-robin tournaments along the eastern seaboard and in Adelaide.

The purses have been small by tour standards. But they have served players such as Daria Gavrilova and Thanasi Kokkinakis well, with both enjoying success on the comeback trail from injury.

Bernard Tomic has been in good form during a tournament in Brisbane.Source:News Corp Australia

Sam Stosur also played an event in Melbourne, while Bernard Tomic is through to a final in Brisbane this week as he, too, attempts a bid to return from the tennis rankings wilderness.

To date, though, the established WTA and ATP Tour regulars led by Barty and including Kyrgios, Millman and Jordan Thompson have opted against competing, with the latter rejoining competitive ranks in August.

But with the Australian summer looming, that may well change.

During the initial lockdown, local officials raised the prospect of holding an Australian Closed Championships prior to the tour resuming in August.

With a wildcard playoff almost certainly out of question – it is expected the lucky Australian players to earn wildcards for the 2021 Australian Open will be told the good news soon – it would not surprise if the option for a closed championships is under strong consideration.

Originally published asWhy locals will never have better shot at Aus Open glory

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