HEARTENING news for tennis fans and players, the long-awaited Australian Open, one of the world’s major prestigious tennis championships, is commencing on February 8. The event had to be pushed back following the COVID-19 pandemic, says AO boss Craig Tiley. As per his note seen by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald to players outlining the strict guidelines set out by the Department of Health and Human Services the grand slam has been rescheduled. Players will be able to train during 14-day quarantine, but only after testing negative to COVID-19 on the second day of isolation. Testing will take place in each player’s hotel room on days one, three, seven, 10 and 14. Players will be able to undertake quarantine from January 15, The Age says.”It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on February 8,” Tiley said in the letter. Tennis Australia says it will pay for charter flights, player and entourage quarantine costs, meals and accommodation. Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka is also the CEO of Virgin Australia. It is unclear whether Virgin sponsorship will be involved. Tiley also said the tournament will pay the “full $71 million prizemoney and are working with the tours on redistribution with large increases to the early rounds and a likely first-round purse of $100k.”Players will be arriving via chartered flights between January 15-17 but quarantine won’t start until the last player arrives. Once the players are tested negative for COVID-19 after the first day of isolation, they will be permitted to train with one other player from days two to seven. From day eight and after three negative tests, players will then be able to practice in groups of up to four. Tiley said a start date of February 8 will give players the best possible preparation for a grand slam. “A February 1 start date would not have allowed any matches [health authorities rule out matches in the bubble] and also would have been unfair to players who may get infected during quarantine – as it would’ve ruled them out of the AO,” Tiley continued in the letter to players. All players will be allowed out of their hotel rooms for a maximum of five hours: two hours on court, two hours in the gym and one hour to eat on site. All movement outside of the hotels will be limited to Melbourne Park and Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.