MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The ATP Cup team event will kick off the slate of tune-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open in January.

Tennis Australia on Thursday said the Jan. 1-9 ATP Cup will be held in Sydney and will be followed by the new Sydney Tennis Classic, a combined men’s and women’s event.

Team Serbia won the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in 2020 and Team Russia won the 2021 event in February, when COVID-19 restrictions meant the number of teams was reduced to 12 in Melbourne.

The Memorial Drive Tennis Centre in Adelaide will host two weeks of combined men’s and women’s competitions.

Melbourne Park will host three events — two WTA 250 tournaments and one ATP 250 — from Jan. 3-9 before the Australian Open qualifying tournament begins.

The first major of 2022 will be held Jan. 17-30 at Melbourne Park, which will be allowed to host capacity crowds on the condition that all players, fans and staff are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said it was vital to provide competition opportunities for players after the end-of-year break. Continuing domestic border restrictions within Australia for the coronavirus pandemic ended the prospects of staging top-level tournaments in the states of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Still, it's a dramatic increase from the number of tournaments staged before the 2021 Australian Open, when players had to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine on arrival and crowds were either heavily restricted or shut out.

“It is not news to anyone that the pandemic, closed borders and varying rates of vaccination created a massive challenge for us and led to the changes specifically for the summer," Tiley said. “It’s why we waited as long as possible to secure optimal conditions for the players and fans in as many locations as we could.”

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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