Frederico Silva and João Domingues are the first two representatives of Portuguese tennis to take action at the Australian Open, but not on the oceanic continent. The qualifying phase of the Grand Slam tournament, from January 10 to 13, is split between Qatar, where they are both, and Dubai, where the women’s event will take place. The draw of eligible has already taken place and dictated the first opponents of Portuguese tennis players looking for their Doha debut majors.
Frederico Silva, currently 182 in the world rankings, will face Slovak Lukas Lacko (200). The two met once last August, in the challenger Ostrava on clay, with Lacko – 44th in the world in 2013, winning in two sets.
João Domingues (179th) has an unprecedented meeting, already scheduled for this Sunday, with Czech Tomas Machac (197th) – who, curiously, beat Silva in the third and last round of the eligible Roland Garros last September.
The staff of the qualifying phase is made up of 128 tennis players and will qualify 16 who will advance to the main Melbourne team, and where João Sousa and Pedro Sousa are assured of the presence.
In Doha, Dubai or Melbourne, security measures are very strict, with players and companions only allowed to leave hotels for five hours a day. For those who will participate in the Australian Open – more than 1,200 are expected, tennis players and referees included – a 14-day quarantine awaits them, after their arrival in Melbourne, between January 15 and 17. But this measure will not be completed by everyone in the same way, which is already attracting some criticism.
Indeed, some of the best tennis players in the world have been invited to participate in an exhibition tournament in Adelaide, where they are also in their forties, but more flexible in the number of companions with whom they can leave the hotel, to know for law courts training, unlike Melbourne, where tennis players can only accompany one more element. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka are among the eight participants already announced for this event, scheduled for January 29.
However, tournaments on the professional circuit are already taking place. In Antalya (Turkey) and Delray Beach (USA) there are two ATP 250 tournaments and in Abu Dhabi there is a WTA 500. Between January 31 (quarantine completed) and February 6, two ATP 250 will take place simultaneously, the ATP Cup and two WTA 500s at Melbourne Park, stage of the Australian Open, from February 8.