Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley hopes plans for the "summer of tennis" are finalised soon.

Huge uncertainty continues to surround the expected first grand slam of 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports have suggested all lead-up tournaments could be moved to Victoria, while players are apparently being denied entry to Australia until January.

On Saturday, reports said the Australian Open could be moved from its usual January start to either March or April.

In a statement on Sunday, Tiley said works were continuing – but he appeared to suggest plans were for the event to be held in summer, which runs from December through February in Australia.

"Tennis Australia is doing everything we can to finalise the summer of tennis as soon as possible," he said.

"Our intention is to deliver a summer in conditions that allow the players to prepare and perform at their best and the fans to enjoy their efforts – all in an environment that is safe for all concerned.

"We are working closely with the Victorian Government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff, and is of major benefit to the Victorian and Australian economy.

"We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon.

"Tennis Australia is acutely aware of the need for certainty, but also conscious of reaching a solution with the State Government that ensures the safety of the entire community.

"We look forward to announcing our ticket on-sale date as soon as all arrangements with the relevant authorities are finalising and we have more information on crowd sizes. We anticipate this on-sale date will be within the next two weeks.

"We can't wait for the summer and look forward to bringing you more details as soon as we possibly can."

The Australian Open has started in January in every year since 1987.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews expects the 2021 Australian Open to be held in a "bubble" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After suggestions lead-up events would be held in Victoria, reports on Tuesday said the Australian government was denying players entry in December.

Andrews reaffirmed his confidence the event at Melbourne Park would go ahead, although it remains uncertain exactly when, and under what conditions.

But he said on Thursday that any plan for the tournament would likely see it held in a bubble, which is what players endured during this year's US Open in New York and is an idea previously discussed by Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley.

"I think a bubble arrangement would be an important feature of any final landing," Andrews told a news conference.

"Again, I'm not someone who runs tennis tournaments but logic tells you not only to protect public health, so keeping participants who've come from the rest of the world, which is on fire at the moment with the numbers we're seeing are just like nothing we've seen before, you've got to keep those people away from the Victorian community for a period of time and you also need to keep them away from each other to protect the integrity of the event.

"In the event that there's a positive case and you've not been bubbling people and having people separated then you might have to isolate half the field, which would of course make running the tournament very difficult so for all those reasons.

"I think that a bubble however constructed will be a feature and not just that, that's the way cricket will operate, that's the way the grand prix will operate some time later and many, many other events."

Victoria on Thursday recorded a 20th consecutive day without a coronavirus case.

There have been more than 1.3 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, with 907 in Australia.

Novak Djokovic urged the government to support players heading into the Australian Open, the world number one calling for authorities to sanction lead-up tournaments while quarantining.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is confident the 2021 Australian Open will go ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns over international travel.

There have been reports pre-Australian Open events will be held in Victoria, rather than around Australia in cities like Sydney and Brisbane, in order to minimise travel ahead of the year's opening grand slam in Melbourne.

Initial reports suggested players would arrive in Australia in mid-December to undertake mandatory quarantine of two weeks before competing, though the ATP has since pointed to plans for January.

Asked about the looming Australian Open, defending champion and record-setting eight-time winner Djokovic told reporters following his ATP Finals loss to Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday: "There's several options I hear that are on the table and I think Tennis Australia has been very communicative and very open with the process with us players.

"I'm very pleased with the way Craig Tiley and the other staff from Tennis Australia have been trying to fight for us as best conditions as is possible for the players. But it's also not in their hands obviously, the government of Australia decides and Victoria on the conditions and restrictions and so forth.

"As far as I know so far, the Australian Open will happen whether it's in the current week or the week later. If that's what's necessary then yes I would understand the Australian Open being pushed a week later. Even though the tournaments post-Australian Open would get hurt.

"So we have to, as men's and women's tennis and the ATP, WTA, everybody involved, we have to consider what are the ramifications of maybe potentially some decisions that are going to be made in terms of the calendar in Australia and how that's going to affect the Tour after that. I'm planning to play the Australian Open for sure, I would like to go there and I'm ready to quarantine for two weeks and whatever is necessary for me to be able to play.

"I hope that there's going to be support and understanding from the Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine and hopefully that's going to help immensely with the calendar and everything and you won't be then losing a week, you'll be able to have a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open which for the majority of the players is important obviously for a lot of the players.

"They were done with the season in Paris and then potentially having no tournaments or official matches before the Australian Open, before a grand slam, is a huge thing. Hopefully we'll be able to have at least a tournament before the Australian Open."

Djokovic was easily swept aside by Russian star Medvedev 6-3 6-3 at the O2 Arena in London midweek.

Eyeing a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals trophy, Djokovic uncharacteristically tallied 28 unforced errors as he tasted defeat for just the fourth time this year, compared to 40 wins.

"I was a little bit [feeling unwell]," the 17-time major champion said about his fitness. "Especially towards the end of the first set and beginning of the second. I kind of regrouped and felt better towards the end of the match. But just an unfortunate 15-20 minutes for me that resulted with seven games in a row lost. Against a player like Medvedev then the match is done."

Djokovic – who will next meet Alexander Zverev for a spot in the final four – added: "He was a better player and deserved to win, no doubt about it."

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is confident the Australian Open will go ahead in 2021, amid concerns over international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tennis Channel reported on Tuesday that the Australian government was not allowing players to enter the country in December.

It came days after reports said lead-up events would be held in Victoria, rather than around Australia, to minimise travel ahead of the year's first grand slam.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Andrews said there was still work to be done with organisers, but he is confident the tournament at Melbourne Park will go ahead.

"There was some reporting, and I'm not being critical of the reporting, but there was some reporting earlier in the week that this was all some sort of done deal, that there would be lead-up tournaments and the Australian Open and the whole thing was finalised," he said.

"I just want to make the point this is incredibly complex. It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly, so that reporting was not accurate.

"We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working with all of their partners, we're confident that we'll finish up with an Australian Open. It's a very important event, but there's a lot of work to be done to make sure that's as safe as possible, not just for the broader Victorian community from a public health point of view, but it's got to be safe for those who are involved in the event, staff who work there.

"It's a massive task so there is more work that has to be done and we're deeply engaged with Tennis Australia and others to get that outcome and when that work is finished, we'll be able to say more."

On Wednesday, Victoria recorded its 19th straight day with no coronavirus cases.

Reports had suggested players would arrive in Australia in mid-December to quarantine prior to playing events.

In a note to players on Tuesday, the ATP confirmed there had been changes and it pointed to making plans for January.

"In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members," it read.

"We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.

"We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events to players, maximising points, jobs and prizemoney opportunities."

At a time when the world is drastically different from the norm, there is something rather comforting about the familiarity of Serena Williams remaining a global phenomenon.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we go about our normal lives, some things do not change and Williams' enduring quality is proof of that.

The American great has 23 grand slam singles titles, the most in the Open Era and one shy of Margaret Court's overall record.

It began, professionally, on this day a remarkable 23 years ago when Williams defeated Elena Likhovtseva at the Ameritech Cup Chicago for her first main-draw win on the WTA Tour.

At that same tournament, Williams went on to defeat stellar names Mary Pierce and Monica Seles before falling to the brilliant Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals.

A stunning period of dominance has followed in two decades since and below we take a look at some of the best numbers behind a genuine legend.

73 - Williams has won 73 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Auckland in January 2020.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - the joint-third highest total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

98 - In total, Williams has appeared in 98 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

Former Australian Open champion Ashley Cooper has died at the age of 83.

Cooper, an eight-time major champion across singles and doubles competition, had been battling a lengthy illness.

Compatriot Rod Laver paid tribute to Cooper on Twitter, writing: "He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand!

"So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley's wife, Helen, and his family."

Cooper played during Australia's golden era of men's tennis, winning four major singles titles including two on home soil.

He won three of the four slams in 1958, the French Open the only trophy to elude him, a year after leading Australia to Davis Cup success.

In 1958, Australia lost to the United States and Cooper attempted to withdraw from a professional contract signed with Jack Kramer as he "felt he owed" his country, according to Tennis Australia.

His 1959 wedding to Helen Wood, who was the reigning Miss Australia, attracted more than 3,000 well-wishers.

Following his retirement, Cooper worked as an administrator for Tennis Queensland and Tennis Australia and was instrumental in the construction of the Queensland Tennis Centre, built on the site of a disused power station.

Current women's world number one Ash Barty paid her own tribute, writing: "Thank you for everything that you have done for our sport. My thoughts are with your family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Ashley."

Novak Djokovic celebrates his birthday on Friday, with the world number one showing no signs of slowing down as he turns 33.

The world number one lifted his 17th grand slam title in January with a five-set win over Dominic Thiem.

Five-set sagas have been the domain of Djokovic throughout his career, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro all sharing the court with him for a series of grand slam thrillers that live long in the memory.

Here we look back at a selection of Djokovic's most epic encounters.

2011 US Open Semi-final v Federer ​– Win

Djokovic is renowned for his power to recover from even the most precarious of positions and Federer was on the receiving end of two such Houdini acts in successive years at Flushing Meadows.

Indeed, after saving two match points in a last-four encounter with the Swiss great in 2010, Djokovic repeated the trick en route to a 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory after three hours and 51 minutes.

"It's awkward having to explain this loss," Federer said afterwards. "Because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference."

Federer offered little praise for a stunning forehand winner that helped the Serbian save a match point, saying that at that moment Djokovic did not look like a player "who believes much anymore in winning".

He added: "To lose against someone like that, it's very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go."

2012 Australian Open semi-final v Murray – Win

There has arguably been no tournament where Djokovic demonstrated a greater proclivity for endurance than at Melbourne Park in 2012.

His semi-final with Murray, who was weeks into his partnership with coach Ivan Lendl, produced a bewitching prelude of what was to follow in the final.

Murray pushed Djokovic to the limit in a marathon lasting four hours and 50 minutes, fighting back from 5-2 down in the final set of a match in which the ultimate victor battled breathing problems.

Djokovic recovered from surrendering that lead, however, and clinched a 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 victory to set up a final with Rafael Nadal that somehow surpassed the semi-final as the pair etched their name into the record books.

2012 Australian Open final v Nadal ​– Win

With Djokovic needing to produce an exhausting effort to get beyond Murray and Nadal having taken part in his own classic semi-final with Federer, albeit with victory secured in four sets, both would have been forgiven for putting on a final below their usual standards.

They instead did the exact opposite and delivered a showpiece considered by some to be the greatest final ever.

An undulating attritional battle went for five hours and 53 minutes, making it the longest final in grand slam history and the longest Australian Open contest of all time.

Nadal was on his knees as if he had won the tournament when he took the fourth set on a tie-break and was a break up in a fittingly frenetic decider.

However, it was Djokovic who ultimately prevailed at 1:37am (local time) with a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 triumph that clinched his fifth grand slam.

Djokovic said: "It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies, we made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn't be two winners."

2012 US Open final v Murray – Loss

Having been the thorn in Murray's side in Melbourne for successive years, also defeating him in the final of the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic succumbed to the Scot at Flushing Meadows, but only after a Herculean comeback effort.

Murray took the first two sets, the opener won in the longest tie-break (24 minutes) of a men's championship match. Djokovic, though, appeared primed to become the first man since Gaston Gaudio in 2004 to win a slam final after losing the first two sets.

However, Murray was not be denied and dominated the decider to close out a 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 victory, the longest final in US Open history.

Gracious in defeat, Djokovic said of Murray's first slam title: "Definitely happy that he won it. Us four [Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray], we are taking this game to another level. It's really nice to be part of such a strong men's tennis era."

2013 French Open semi-final v Nadal ​– Loss

With Nadal back from a serious knee injury that cost him seven months of his career, the Spaniard returned to peak form at his favourite slam with another absorbing duel with Djokovic.

Lasting four hours and 37 minutes, it did not quite match the heights of their Australian Open opus, but there were enough twists and turns to satisfy those clamouring for another Djokovic-Nadal classic.

Nadal was unable to serve for the match in the fourth set and Djokovic led 4-2 in the fifth, but a decider stretching one hour and 20 minutes went the way of the King of Clay.

"Serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth, I was serving against the wind, so I knew it was going to be a difficult game," Nadal said after his 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7 win.

"I was ready for the fight. In Australia 2012 it was a similar match - today it was me [that won]. That's the great thing about sport."

2013 Wimbledon semi-final v Del Potro – Win

"It was one of the best matches I've been a part of."

Given his travails of 2012, Djokovic's words after his victory over the 2009 US Open champion served as remarkably high praise.

It was a match worthy of such an effusive tribute.

Having twisted his knee earlier in the tournament, Del Potro's contribution to a phenomenal last-four clash served as one of more impressive feats of the Argentinian's career.

Against another opponent, his unrelenting and thunderous groundstrokes would have prevailed, but it was Djokovic's court coverage that proved the difference after four hours and 43 minutes.

Following his 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 victory, Djokovic said of Del Potro: "[He showed] why he's a grand slam champion, why he's right at the top, because every time he's in a tough situation, he comes up with some unbelievable shots."

2015 French Open semi-final v Murray – Win

Two days were needed to separate Djokovic and Murray as the Parisian skies played their part in the semi-final.

A storm halted proceedings on the Friday with Djokovic 2-1 up heading into the fourth set.

Murray appeared to have benefited from the delay as he began Saturday by forcing a decider, but Djokovic was clinical in wrapping up the fifth in comfortable fashion.

He triumphed 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1, though a first Roland Garros title would have to wait, however, with Djokovic stunningly defeated by Stan Wawrinka in the final 24 hours later.

2016 US Open final v Wawrinka ​– Loss

Wawrinka would again prove Djokovic's undoing in New York as an astonishing demonstration of shot-making saw the defending champion dethroned.

The Swiss' 18 hours on court ahead of the final were double that of Djokovic, but his toil paid dividends as he bounced back from dropping the first set on a tie-break.

It was a rare occasion where Djokovic ​– battling a blister on his big toe – was rendered powerless in the face of Wawrinka's 46 winners.

Wawrinka came through 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 7-5 6-3 after three hours and 55 minutes, with Djokovic saying: "Congratulations, Stan, to your team as well. This has been absolutely deserved today. You were the more courageous player in the decisive moment and he deserves his title."

2018 Wimbledon semi-final v Nadal - Win

Spread across two days having been made to wait six hours and 36 minutes for Kevin Anderson to outlast John Isner in the other semi-final, Djokovic and Nadal combined to deliver a spectacle eminently more memorable than the meeting of the two big servers.

Djokovic led by two sets to one when play suspended at 11:02 pm (local time), Wimbledon's curfew ending any hopes of a Friday finish.

The prospect of a swift Saturday was soon put to bed for Djokovic as Nadal claimed the fourth. However, Djokovic eventually came through a deciding set among the finest ever contested by the two greats to seal a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (13-11) 3-6 10-8 victory after five hours and 15 minutes.

It marked a first Wimbledon final since 2015 and the start of Djokovic's return to the top of the sport after struggles with injury saw him tumble out of the top 20 in 2018.

Djokovic said: "Speaking from this position right now it makes it even better for me, makes it even more special because I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, get myself to the finals of a slam." 

2019 French Open semi-final v Thiem ​– Loss

Djokovic was bidding to become the first man to hold all four grand slams at the same time twice but fell foul of Thiem and the French weather.

The last-four meeting began on a Friday but was suspended three times due to wind and rain before organisers cancelled play for the day.

Thiem eventually edged an enthralling affair 2-6 6-3 5-7 7-5 5-7 in four hours and 13 minutes, but Djokovic was quick to direct his ire at tournament officials.

"It [was] one of the worst conditions I have ever been part of," said Djokovic.

"When you're playing in hurricane kind of conditions, it's hard to perform your best."

2019 Wimbledon final v Federer ​– Win

Few would argue Djokovic did not deserve to retain the Wimbledon title. Grinding down Federer remains one of the most arduous tasks in sport, but most would accept this was a final Djokovic was fortunate to win.

An awe-inspiring match, Federer's was a vintage performance, but it was underscored by missed opportunities that will stay with him long after his dazzling career comes to an end.

Federer had a pair of match points at 8-7 in a captivating fifth set. Both were squandered, and few players in the history of tennis have ever been as ruthless at compounding the missed chances of others as Djokovic. 

He duly exercised his flair for punishing profligacy by winning the first ever 12-all tie-break, clinching a fifth Wimbledon crown 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) after four hours and 57 minutes.

"If not the most exciting and thrilling finals of my career, in the top two or three and against one of the greatest players of all time," Djokovic said. "As Roger said, we both had our chances. It's quite unreal to be two match points down and come back."

Novak Djokovic is "very confident" he will end his career with a record tally of grand slam titles.

Djokovic has 17 major triumphs to his name after retaining his Australian Open title in January, three fewer than Roger Federer's record haul.

Rafael Nadal is also above the Serb in the list for the most men's grand slam singles titles with 19, as the best players in the world wait to discover when they will be back in action after the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic, who turns 33 next Friday, has won five of the last seven grand slams and is the youngest of the 'big three'.

The world number one not only has his sights trained on winning more majors than his rivals, but also the record for most weeks at the top of the rankings.

Djokovic, officially the best player in the world for 282 weeks compared to Federer's record of 310, said in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger: "I don't believe in limits. I think limits are only illusions of your ego or your mind."

He added: "I'm always very confident in myself. I believe I can win the most slams and break the record for longest number one. Those are definitely my clear goals."

That positive outlook is a far cry from when Djokovic declared he was ready to quit after a defeat to Benoit Paire at the Miami Open two years ago.

Djokovic's wife, Jelena, recalled: "He said to me that he's quitting and that's the truth. He lost in Miami. It was a terrible loss. And then he just, you know, gathered all of us and said, 'You know guys, I'm done.'

"And I was like, 'What?' And he goes like, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Edoardo [Artaldi, his agent], you can speak with my sponsors. I want to be clear with them. I don't know if I'm stopping for six months, a year or forever.'"

A player relief fund of more than $6million has been created to support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

World number one Novak Djokovic said last month he had spoken to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal about a relief fund that would see money distributed to lower-ranked players.

The ATP and WTA Tour seasons are suspended until at least July 13 due to COVID-19.

While Australian Open runner-up Dominic Thiem was opposed to the idea, the governing bodies of tennis came together to raise more than $6m, it was announced on Tuesday.

"The initiative has seen the ATP, WTA, the four grand slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, The Championships, Wimbledon and the US Open – and the ITF, unite in a show of support to players who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global impact of COVID-19. Professional tennis is currently suspended until July, 13 2020," a statement read.

"In addition to contributions of their own, the ATP and WTA will administer the financial distributions of the player relief programme, which sees respective contributions from the four grand slam tournaments and ITF split equally between men and women.

"The player relief programme will target a total of approximately 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players collectively, in need of financial support. Eligibility for the player relief programme will take into account a player's ranking as well as previous prize money earnings according to criteria agreed by all stakeholders.

"The move by the seven stakeholders provides the financial backbone of the programme, with opportunities for additional contributions to follow. Funds raised through initiatives such as auctions, player donations, virtual tennis games and more, will provide opportunity for further support of the programme moving forward and are welcomed.

"The creation of the player relief programme is a positive demonstration of the sport's ability to come together during this time of crisis. We will continue to collaborate and monitor the support required across tennis with the aim of ensuring the long-term health of the sport in the midst of this unprecedented challenge to our way of life, and our thoughts remain with all those affected at this time."

There have been more than 3.7 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 257,000.

Rafael Nadal is sceptical about the prospect of the ATP Tour returning in 2020 and is already thinking ahead to next year's Australian Open.

Both the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until at least mid-July as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with the global sports calendar.

Wimbledon has already been cancelled for 2020, while the French Open was put back to September but the major at Roland Garros and the US Open remain in doubt.

Nadal still wishes to return to competitive action before the end of the year but says a more realistic approach is to plan towards 2021 and the Australian Open.

"I hope we can return before the end of the year but, unfortunately, I don't think so," Nadal told El Pais.

"I would sign up to being ready for 2021.

"I'm more worried about the Australian Open than what occurs at the end of this year. 

"I think 2020 is practically lost. I hope we can start up again next year, I really hope that's the case."

Nick Kyrgios looked to be out to make amends with rival Rafael Nadal as he offered the Spanish great a video call.

Kyrgios' unique style of play has repeatedly provoked spiky responses from Nadal throughout his career.

And with neither man in action amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kyrgios is keen to entertain fans by sharing an Instagram Live with Nadal.

Kyrgios responded to a BBC Sport post that suggested a series of potentially spicy calls - including a possible conversation between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Rafa, let's do Instagram Live together," he commented. "I'm down with it."

Nadal was asked about the Australian in Melbourne at the opening grand slam of 2020.

"I don't know [if I like him]. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion," Nadal said.

"It's clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don't like."

The 19-time major champion more complimentary of Kyrgios later in the Australian Open after battling past his opponent, but their rivalry endures.

German star Jan-Lennard Struff believes artificial intelligence and data is the future of tennis after joining forces with analyst Craig O'Shannessy.

World number 34 Struff has teamed up with Australian pioneer O'Shannessy – Novak Djokovic's former chief strategist, who has continued to transform the sport.

O'Shannessy – using numbers, patterns and data – helped Djokovic rise back to the top of the ATP Tour with four grand slams in three years before separating at the start of 2020.

With O'Shannessy in his corner, Struff almost defeated Djokovic at the Australian Open in January before the Serb superstar went on to claim a record-extending eighth title in Melbourne.

"Craig is an extremely good analyst," Struff told Stats Perform about O'Shannessy, who also works with 2019 US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini, Alexei Popyrin and Tennis Canada.

"He has been working with a lot of the top players over the past years, like Novak Djokovic for example.

"I had the idea, that I could improve myself while working with him, I want to be professional and try to reach everything that is possible within my career. 

"Therefore I think you have to try things like that. I really appreciate him and I think, that he can push me forward even more."

Stats Perform harnesses the true power of sports data by leveraging advancements in AI to generate the industry's richest insights, though it is relatively untapped in tennis.

Asked if AI and numbers will become more important in tennis, Struff added: "Yes of course.

"I don't know exactly, what the other players are doing on that area. You are always trying to hide these things. Nobody wants to talk about what he is doing, how his fitness training looks like and such things.

"Everybody is trying to hide himself, so the opponents don’t see, if certain things are working out or not. This is to prevent the other guys from copying certain things and actually catching up. But this is definitely going to come."

Australian Open semi-finalist and German star Alexander Zverev suspects he contracted coronavirus in December.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, with more than 69,300 deaths globally and sport brought to a standstill.

All ATP and WTA tournaments have been called off until mid-July, with Wimbledon cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zverev produced his best grand slam performance at the Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals in January, and the 22-year-old believes he may have been infected prior to the year's opening major in Melbourne.

"My friend Brenda and I were in China on December 28," the world number seven told Bild.

"You can't imagine how I coughed for a month in Australia. I had a fever for two or three days and I coughed for five or six hours. Brenda too. We didn't know what it was. It was a cough that I never had. I had no pain, but I coughed continuously every 10 seconds.

"I had no pain, but I coughed continuously every ten seconds."

New Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin can end her career with a double-figure grand-slam haul and will be world number one "by summer".

That is according to renowned coach Rick Macci, who was taken aback by Kenin's skill and mentality when the American sensation had her first lesson with him at the age of five.

Macci, who has also coached the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Jennifer Capriati, knew Kenin was destined for greatness as he continued to nurture her talents until she was 12.

So there were no eyebrows raised from the Ohio native when the 21-year-old beat Garbine Muguruza to claim her maiden major title at Melbourne Park last Saturday, and he is in no doubt it will prove the first of many for the world number seven.

Macci told Omnisport: "I'd say by summer she'll be on top of the rankings, it's right around the corner.

"She'll be in the top five or 10 for the next 10 years, she's not going anywhere because when you show up to play, she's always going to be there.

"People don't understand what they are looking at, I can see her winning double figures grand slams, she might get 15 before she's done.

"She's the real deal, this is [Martina] Hingis, [Simona] Halep but with a tremendous mental strength that doesn't blink. She expected to win the final [against Muguruza], her father [and coach, Alex] did and I did."

Macci says there is no chance the Russia-born prodigy will become too embraced in off-court distractions with her new-found name.

He said: "That will never happen, this is a different animal. She is no one-hit wonder, there is so much stability, structure and focus inside this girl.

"She was at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Boca Raton [Florida] before they went to Australia getting a massage. I said, 'So what's the game plan?'. She looked at me and said, 'To be number one in the world'.

"It was not in an arrogant way, but in a matter of fact. You can say that, but she has the goods to back it up.

"She's shown you don't have to be six feet tall, you don't need a huge serve or to have tremendous power. If you understand the geometry of the court, you take the ball early and it's a game of inches from one ear to the other.

"This girl, her mental strength is unsurpassed and she's a great role model."

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