Tennis: Start of Australian Open confirmed for February 8

(FILE) Serbia's Novak Djokovic arrives on court to play against Austria's Dominic Thiem in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 2, 2020. Saeed KHAN / AFP

The Australian Open will start on February 8, three weeks later than scheduled, organisers confirmed on Saturday after months of speculation over the first Grand Slam of 2021.

The start date of the main draw of the tournament was originally slated for Jan. 18 and organisers have been locked in drawn-out negotiations with local government over COVID-19 health security measures.

"This will be a historic Australian Open on so many levels," tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement.

"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."

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