British stars in the dark over travel plans for Australian Open

Andy Murray among British stars in the dark over travel plans for Australian Open with time running out to get 1,000 players and staff Down Under

  • Players and staff must arrive in the country during the quarantine window 
  • Murray has been granted a wildcard into the event which starts on February 8
  • Seven GB singles players are guaranteed entry to the Australian Open 

Along with those from other nations, Britain’s leading tennis players are still awaiting details of how and when they will be travelling to Australia this month.

With charter flights being laid on by the Australian Open, players have been asked which departure location they prefer. Dubai is the option suiting most of the GB contingent of singles and doubles exponents, although Los Angeles is an alternative.

But with 10 days left before they leave — to arrive in their strictly controlled quarantine window —they are yet to receive any confirmation of exact plans regarding attempts to get 1,000 players and staff Down Under.

Seven GB singles players are guaranteed entry to the Australian Open including Andy Murray

‘Fingers crossed they can work through it but it’s complex and seems to be changing by the day,’ one of those due to travel told Sportsmail.

Seven GB singles players are guaranteed entry to the Australian Open including Andy Murray, who has been granted a wildcard into the event which has been delayed until February 8.

Tournament withdrawal dramas involving Murray have become as much a part of New Year as Auld Lang Syne recently, and this one has been no different.

Last week he did a U-turn on his participation in this week’s curtain-raising ATP event in Florida’s Delray Beach, handing back the wildcard he accepted less than a week earlier.

Murray, 33, thought better of increasing his risk of coming into contact with Covid-19, but it always looked an odd move to make such a circuitous journey to Australia.

Happily the cause this time is not related to injury, and he should get the chance to boost his ranking from its modest starting point of 122.

Murray has taken criticism on social media for his increasing reliance on wildcards to get into events but this fails to take into account temporary changes to the ranking system, which has meant points being kept on for up to two years. 

It has made improving a personal ranking harder, while making it easier for those already at the top to stay there.

The problems associated with Murray’s hip mean his best chance of success is likely to come in best-of-three set matches, with the possible exception of Wimbledon.

Katie Boulter is set to play in the Melbourne main draw after welcome return to form

There will be more focus on other British players, and the Lawn Tennis Association’s efforts to come up with some sort of production line of elite talent.

On July 29 last year they appointed a new performance director, Michael Bourne, who came from UK Sport with no prior tennis experience. It would be nice to provide some insight on his approach, but since taking over he has been shielded from scrutiny.

All that can be asked now is that the British players maximise their potential in the way that Dan Evans did last season, and how Jo Konta, 30 this year, has done through most of her 20s.

Worryingly, Kyle Edmund is still experiencing problems with his knee and his fitness for the start of the season is not guaranteed.

One hope is that Katie Boulter, who will play in the Melbourne main draw, will resume the progress she was making prior to injuries and interruption.

All will be itching for this week’s start of the main tours, perhaps with the fear that there is an awful lot that could yet happen to prevent the Australian Open going ahead.

The latest hurdle in Melbourne is potential legal action being taken by owners of apartments at a complex which has been earmarked as accommodation for players.




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