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Jam-Packed Melbourne Summer Tennis Series to Feature Five tournaments plus the ATP Cup

Nick Kyrgios, who hasn’t played a Tour-level match since February of 2020, is scheduled to return at next week’s Murray River Open.

By Ricky Dimon

A grand total of six tournaments across the men’s and women’s tours will take place next week in advance of the Australian Open. The newly-created Melbourne Summer Series will mark tennis’ return from a three-week hiatus as a most unusual Australian summer begins.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine restrictions in the state of Victoria, January and February on both the ATP Tour and WTA Tour look a lot different this year. Scrapped from the opening-month schedule were events in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Hobart, and Shenzhen in addition to the ATP Cup.

The first week of February will try to make up for it in a major way. The ATP Cup is back–albeit in a scaled-down format–and will be joined by two ATP 250 tournaments plus a trio of WTA 500 events.

“There’s no doubt this will be a historic week of tennis and is the biggest-ever AO lead-in week we have seen in Australia,” said Cameron Pearson, Head of Major Events for Tennis Australia. “It’s an exciting prospect for fans both on site and watching around the world. While we know the circumstances are unique this year, it is a huge coup to secure such strong playing fields. I hope fans–whether on site or watching at home–will embrace what will be a high-quality week of events.”

On the men’s side, the tournament formerly known as “Melbourne 1” is the Murray River Open (the Murray River is Australia’s longest river, spanning 1,558 miles in the southeastern part of the continent). Among those expected to be in the field of 56 are Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Borna Coric, Taylor Fritz, Ugo Humbert, Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet, and Frances Tiafoe.

“Melbourne 2” is now the Great Ocean Road Open (the Great Ocean Road is a 151-mile stretch of highway along the southeastern coast of Australia). Headlining the current entry list are David Goffin, Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, and Alexander Bublik. Hurkacz will be trying to stay hot after capturing his second career title in Delray Beach, while Bublik finished runner-up in Antalya.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in action against Ashleigh Barty during the ‘A Day at the Drive’ tennis event at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide, Australia.

The WTA Tour was initially scheduled for two tournaments, as well, but it recently scrambled to add a third at the last minute for women who have been in strict, no-practice quarantine for the past two weeks. That event is the the Grampians Trophy, and it will feature former Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber plus 2019 U.S. Open winner Bianca Andreescu and world No. 12 Belinda Bencic.

The Yarra Valley Classic includes Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova, and Petra Kvitova. Leading the way at the Gippsland Trophy will be Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, and Elina Svitolina.

Both of the ATP 250s were recently expanded to fields of 56. Two of the three WTA 500s will have 54-player draws, while the Grampians Trophy will have 28 women participating.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.