200911 Osaka
Naomi Osaka will take part in the exhibition in Adelaide Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: This year’s Australian Open will have an innovative element with organisers scheduling a first-ever ‘A Day at the Drive’ event as the official curtain-raiser to the season’s first Grand Slam.

Scheduled for Friday, the one-off event with 10 tennis stars including the men’s and women’s top-ranked players, will be held at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide in support of the Australian Tennis Foundation.

The season’s first Grand Slam is scheduled to be played at the Melbourne Park from February 8-20.

On Friday, the day session will feature Novak Djokovic, Italy’s Jannik Sinner, Serena Williams and Japan’s Naomi Osaka. Rafael Nadal will join Dominic Thiem, home girl Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep in headlining the evening session. Matches will consist of two tie-break sets with a match tie-break at one set all.

Venus Williams and Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu will make a special appearance at the end of the day session to play a single tie-break set.

Part proceeds of ticket sales will be donated to the Australian Tennis Foundation to aid South Australia’s most disadvantaged communities, according to the organisers.

In the past year, the Australian Tennis Foundation has supported bushfire affected communities around Australia through Rally as One. In South Australia, this has included funding to support the rebuild of Stokes Bay Tennis Club on Kangaroo Island, along with a variety of events and activities to help communities come together, celebrate community spirit and promote social cohesion.

“To be able to welcome some of the biggest names in tennis to our great state is testament to the outstanding response from the people of South Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Corey Wingard, South Australian Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, said.

“The line-up on Friday is fantastic and shows the Marshall Government’s investment in Memorial Drive is a total game-changer for sport in South Australia,” he added.

“COVID-19 has affected us all on a mental, physical and/or economic level however those most affected are young people starting their employment journey and families already facing financial difficulties,” Australian Tennis Foundation Executive Director Vicki Reid, noted.

“With funds raised from this event, the ATF will use the power of sport to contribute to a healthier, happier and stronger South Australian community.”

“We are really proud that ‘A Day at the Drive’ will give back to the community through our partnership with the Australian Tennis Foundation,” Adelaide International Tournament Director Alistair MacDonald, said.

The Australian Tennis Foundation (ATF) is Tennis Australia’s official charity. The ATF harnesses the power of tennis to help children and young people develop resilience, make healthy life choices and feel positive about the future.

At the core of each initiative the ATF aims to improve physical mental and social health, build self-esteem and confidence, learn respect, team work and sportsmanship, decrease the impacts of social and geographic isolation through inclusion and acceptance, and relieve socioeconomic disadvantage.

A Day at the Drive is supported by the South Australian Government through the South Australian Tourism Commission.


6.30am UAE — Novak Djokovic v Jannik Sinner
Serena Williams v Naomi Osaka
Venus Williams v Irina-Camelia Begu
12.30pm — Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem
Ashleigh Barty v Simona Halep