Earlier, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley was interviewed on Channel Nine.
Q: A buildup like we have neverseen before leading into the Australian Open, how are you doing?
A: We have had a challenging buildup but back in 2021 we ran an event in the middle of a pandemic when no one was bringing international players from around the world. We came to Melbourne and had a very successful event, and we thought we would get into 2022, and it would be a bit easier but being at the height of the omicron variant has made for some challenging times. Again we are in Day 4, as you can see from the beautiful grounds and the event, we are really putting on an event that does what it does so well. The Australian Open reconnects the community, brings everyone together, brings Melburnians together, and we can showcase to the rest of the world so that has been the focus.
Away from the tennis, a lot has been said and written. Did either you or Tennis Australia do anything outside the guidelines provided to you regarding Novak Djokovic?
We already addressed those questions. Today we’re just focusing on delivering Day 4 and a great event. You have seen how well the Aussies did today, as an example. The feedback we’re getting back from our fans onside of the time they are having is fantastic. So we look forward to another 10 days of great tennis, and at some point there will be two great champions.
Was Tennis Australia provided conflicting information regarding Novak?
Similarly we’ve addressed that, we are moving on, focusing on the event and delivering a great two weeks of tennis. What we are going to put forward for Melburnians for the next 10 days and when we finish, it’s going to be an event that we look back and be proud of as far as everyone’s experience and the players’ experience as well.
There are reports Tennis Australia is funding Novak Djokovic’s legal and travel expenses, is that correct?
I have seen those reports today, and we don’t really go into the detail of financial arrangements we have with players, but those reports are simply untrue.
OK, good to know. In hindsight, would you do anything differently, Craig?
Every year, we mention this every year, we get to the end of the Australian Open, there are two champions holding up there are two champions holding up the trophies. There is the women’s winner on Saturday night, the men’s winner on Sunday night, and we go back and bring the whole team together and review what we did during the year. We did that primarily, so we can plan towards 2023, in this case. We spend weeks together reviewing what we did, what we did well, what we could do better, what we need to change, and that is the process we go through every year and this year will be no different.
Have you or will you consider resigning?
No. We put a statement out recently. I am very focused today on delivering a great event. I am proud of being able to stand up here, and you can see what is behind us, I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far. We have had four days of unbelievable tennis and great entertainment, and we will have that for the next 10 days.
There has been talk you are a lot less visible at this Open, have you heard that?
I have heard that, but we brought in 3500 people from around the world, over 100 countries, 560 players, bringing them into Melbourne. Creating an event that connects the community. It has been tough for Melburnians and Victorians, so for us to create and Victorians, so for us to create an event to connect everyone requires a lot of work. Intense work. A lot more than we would normally have because we are doing it in the middle of this pandemic.
One thing getting all the players here, the other is testing protocols for them while they are here. We already had one player who tested positive when exiting the tournament. Plenty of discussion today on the back of comments from some players about testing requirements. Can you clarify what it is Tennis Australia has for the players in terms of responsibilities and requirements, how the testing works?
That’s a good question. There has been a fair bit written about that. Throughout the year the players have been travelling around the world. There have been protocols they have had to follow to do that. We are working closely with the men’s and the women’s tours and came up with a set of protocols that are more rigorous than their week in week out travels. Coming into Australia, every player had to test. On days five and seven they had to test. There is also mandatory symptomatic testing and every player is provided each day with a rapid antigen kit they can pick up either at the hotel or here onside. That is really the program we have had going. So far it has worked well and been successful. We are in a position where this is, as I said Day 4 and we have another 10 days of great tennis. Continuing with the testing program, the physical distance and, wearing the masks, you can see the players all have masks, constantly reminding them about hygiene and staying safe. Not only it keeps them safe but it ensures we keep Victorians safe which has been our goal from the beginning.
On the tennis before we let you go, some great Australian stories, Chris O’Connell and Maddison Inglis through the third round along with Alex de Minaur.
What a great day. It was fantastic to watch Chris, Diego Schwartzman No.13 in the world one of the better players out there, a lovely human being who has been very supportive, and sent me personal notes on this journey, but Chris, great. Of course Maddie Inglis, her win. It was sad to farewell Sam [Stosur]. But she is still playing doubles, I don’t know if you will ever retire playing doubles. And we are about to see Nick Kyrgios playing tonight, arguably [against] the hottest opponent on tour tonight. We are in for a great night tonight, and I think we will continue to see this Aussies do well, and it’s exciting to have an event where the Aussies do well against all the best talent in the world.