Australian Open organisers have finally confirmed the tournament start date, with tickets to go on sale before Christmas ahead of the event beginning on February 8.

Qualifying will be held for both men and women in the Middle East, with the men in Doha and the women in Dubai, from January 10.

That will give players enough time to arrive in Australia from January 15 on special chartered flights and then quarantine for 14 days, before lead-up tournaments are held.

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A 12-team ATP Cup (February 1-5) and two ATP 250 events (January 31 – February 6) will be held in Melbourne for the men.

For the women, two WTA 500 events will be held from February 1, along with a WTA 250 event during the second week of the Grand Slam, from February 15.

Melbourne Park will host the overwhelming majority, if not all, of the lead-up tournaments.

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The Australian Open prize money will remain the same as in 2020, with a total pool of $71.5 million. However the distribution will be tweaked with first-round losers receiving $100,000, up 15 per cent on last year.

Tournament organisers also said the prize money for qualifying and other early rounds has been raised, in a further attempt to incentivise players to travel across the world and deal with a fortnight in quarantine.

“This will be an historic Australian Open on so many levels,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“For the first time in more than 100 years the Australian Open will start in February and we look forward to offering the players what we believe will be one of their best playing experiences in 2021.

Full details for the 2021 Australian Open have been revealed. (Photo by Greg WOOD / AFP)Source: AFP

“From the outset, ensuring players have the best possible preparation for the Australian Open, while at all times protecting the precious COVID-free environment that the Victorian community has built through incredible sacrifice and hard work over the past six months, has been paramount.

“It has taken eight months of working alongside government authorities, here in Victoria, nationally and interstate, to give us the opportunity to present an Australian Open that will play a major role in both the economic and psychological reinvigoration and rejuvenation of Melbourne and Victoria.

“AO 2021 is going to be all about supporting local businesses – our tennis coaches, the farmers, food and wine producers, chefs, artists and musicians – and celebrating everything that is great about our country, as well as providing opportunities to those who’ve been so hard hit during the pandemic, particularly in Melbourne and Victoria.”

Tickets for the 2021 Australian Open go on sale on Wednesday December 23 from midday AEDT via Ticketmaster.

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