Sydney (AFP) -
A bumper series of ATP and WTA tournaments will be played in the lead-up to the Australian Open Grand Slam in January, organisers said Thursday, with the lucrative ATP Cup to take place in Sydney.
The season-opening schedule has been repeatedly delayed as organisers work out what can be played where as Australia gradually relaxes state and international borders after long Covid lockdowns.
All lead-up events took place at Melbourne Park this year in bio-secure conditions after players were forced to quarantine in hotels for 14 days, but Sydney and Adelaide return to the calendar in 2022.
Brisbane, Perth and Hobart, which traditionally hold events, miss out for a second year, as does Auckland in New Zealand.
'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,' said Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.
'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.'
The men's ATP Cup team event, won this year by a ruthless Russian team spearheaded by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, will kick off the season on January 1 in Sydney.
It will be followed the week after by the Sydney Tennis Classic, a combined men's and women's ATP-WTA event.
Top-level tennis returns to Adelaide with a fortnight of combined men's and women's competition from January 2.
There will also be action in Melbourne with three tournaments -? two WTA and one ATP -- from January 3-9 ahead of the Australian Open starting on January 17.
'It's incredibly important to have the world's best players competing across the country, inspiring the next generation of players and growing interest and excitement in our sport,' added Tiley.