Friday, December 18, 2020

Australian Open will be 'historic'; Stanford signs Ma

   Australian Open officials confirmed on Thursday that the tournament will be postponed three weeks until Feb. 8-21 in Melbourne.
   Tournament director Craig Tiley put a positive spin on the move, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
   "This will be a historic Australian Open on so many levels," Tiley said on ausopen.com. "For the first time in more than 100 years, the Australian Open will start in February, and we look forward to offering the players what we believe will be one of their best playing experiences in 2021."
   The tournament will feature singles, doubles and wheelchair competitions. Qualifying will be held Jan. 10-13 in Dubai (women) and Doha (men). The junior championships will be postponed until later in the year.
   Players will compete for more than $80 million in prize money, according to ausopen.com. First-round losers will take home $100,000, up 15 percent from 2020. Prize money for qualifying and the other early rounds also have been increased, with the full breakdown to be released in the coming weeks.
   Stanford women Connie Ma and Alexandra Yepifanova — ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by tennisrecruiting.net among high school seniors — have signed National Letters of Intent to join the two-time defending champion Cardinal in 2021-22, the school announced.
   Ma, from Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area, led the United States Junior Fed Cup team to two championships, going 9-0 in singles and doubles in 2019. 
   Yepifanova, from Lake Worth, Fla., advanced to the girls singles final in last year's U.S. Open. She became the first qualifier to reach that stage of a junior Grand Slam.

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