‘New challenges’ hit Australian Open warm-up events

‘New challenges’ hit Australian Open warm-up events
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the men’s singles final of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Feb. 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 18 November 2020

‘New challenges’ hit Australian Open warm-up events

‘New challenges’ hit Australian Open warm-up events
  • ATP says arrivals originally planned for December are now uncertain, potentially disrupting the packed January schedule
  • It is unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine

MELBOURNE: Lead-up events to the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam were thrown into doubt Wednesday after organizers flagged “new challenges” around players arriving in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a message to players the ATP, the men’s tennis tour, said arrivals originally planned for December were now uncertain, potentially disrupting the packed January schedule.
With players facing a 14-day quarantine, any delay could make it difficult to hold the high-profile ATP Cup and other tournaments before the Australian Open’s scheduled start on January 18 in Melbourne.
“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” read the ATP’s message, which was tweeted by world number 193 Lukas Lacko.
“We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events,” the ATP added.
International travel to Australia is still tightly controlled and all overseas arrivals must quarantine for two weeks, while individual states also have their own coronavirus restrictions.
It’s also unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine.
Tennis Australia on Monday flagged plans to move warm-up events from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra to the state of Victoria, to mitigate against any possible state border closures.
But Victoria’s state premier Dan Andrews said the move was “not a done deal,” particularly since Melbourne only recently emerged from a month-long lockdown.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing the virus, with just over 27,700 cases and 907 deaths recorded since the pandemic began.
But an outbreak in South Australia, which neighbors Victoria, triggered a six-day lockdown Wednesday as officials rush to contain a cluster in Adelaide.


Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season
Updated 25 January 2021

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season
  • Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place

LONDON: Frank Lampard was fired by Chelsea on Monday halfway through his second season in charge of the London club after being unable to replicate his success as the club’s record scorer in his first Premier League managerial job.
Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place, despite Lampard benefiting from nearly $300 million spent on new players for this season.
Chelsea said the performances had not shown “any clear path to sustained improvement” — making a change of managers necessary.
“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” owner Roman Abramovich said. “He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, the Board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future. He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
As the pressure has grown, the cracks were showing ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup win over Luton, when Lampard hit out at perceived negative coverage of the club.
But his own shortcomings of a fledging coaching career were being exposed and sentimentality counted for little despite being instrumental to the trophy-laden revival of the club as a player since the takeover by Abramovich in 2003.
Chelsea brought back its midfield great as coach in 2019 despite him having only a single season’s experience in management in the second division with Derby.
He achieved Champions League qualification in his first season by securing a fourth-place finish in the Premier League. The rush to dismiss Lampard is indicative of the impatience shown by Abramovich, particularly when the team is slipping away from the Champions League spots.
After securing one of the biggest jobs in English management so early in his coaching career, Lampard leaves Stamford Bridge without any success having lost the 2020 FA Cup final to Arsenal.
Lampard is a Chelsea great after scoring 211 goals from central midfield from 2001-14, during which he won every major honor at the club including three Premier League titles and the Champions League. He was associated with some of the best moments in the club’s history and admired for his work ethic and making the most of his talent.