Thursday, 04 February 2021 17:23

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley says he is "absolutely confident" the Grand Slam will start as planned on Monday, despite 160 players waiting for the outcome of coronavirus tests.

A total of 507 people connected to the event were told to isolate by Melbourne health officials on Wednesday after a hotel worker tested positive.

Play at six warm-up events and the Slam draws were postponed on Thursday.

"We fully expect to keep the original schedule after today," said Tiley.

The warm-up events, which are all taking place at Melbourne Park, will resume on Friday.

The women's matches have been reduced to two sets and a first-to-10 match tie-break, although the men's matches will still be played over three sets.

The Australian Open draws have been moved back to Friday at about 03:00 GMT.

The disruption came after it was announced on Wednesday that a 26-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19 after working at the Grand Hyatt hotel where the players affected were staying in a 14-day quarantine.

The security guard tested negative after his final shift at the hotel on 29 January, but returned a positive result after he was tested again on 2 February.

The 160 players, plus their support staff and tournament officials, are deemed to be casual contacts by Victorian state health bosses.

They will be allowed out of isolation once they return a negative test.

British players Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie are among those who stayed in the hotel, but were able to practise on Thursday after receiving negative tests.

Evans, Britain's leading men's player, was due to play in the Murray River Open on Thursday and is now set to play twice on Friday.

"The probability is very low that there will be any issues and we fully expect them all to test negative," said Tiley.

"We're absolutely confident the Australian Open will go ahead."

The Grand Slam tournament was pushed back by three weeks to enable players to quarantine on their arrival in Australia.

Australia has imposed some of the world's toughest restrictions over the past year in a bid to suppress coronavirus.

Months of strict border controls - both internationally and domestically - have helped limit Covid-19 cases to less than 29,000 and deaths to less than 1,000.