Australian Open stars will be flown in on charter flights and only be allowed to practice with one designated player for the first week of their quarantine as they prepare for the delayed tennis grand slam.
Tournament director Craig Tiley revealed more of the planning for an Australian Open like no other on Saturday, after the Victorian Government finally approved quarantine plans and confirmed the Open start date of February 8, three weeks later than usual.
The qualifying tournaments will take place overseas from January 10-13, with the men's event in Doha and the women playing in Dubai.
Players for the Open's main draw events will then be flown into Melbourne on January 15-16 on chartered flights from around the world.
Tiley was at pains to stress that the chartered flights meant players would not be taking airline seats away from Australian citizens stranded overseas for months due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
Before they get on a flight, players must provide a negative COVID test in a 48-hour window and they will be tested again on arrival before receiving further tests - getting a minimum of five through their two-weeks of modified quarantine.
Tiley said players would be kept in a highly-secure environment while shuttled between their hotel room and Melbourne Park for their permitted five hours a day of training.
The limit of one specified training partner for the first week would likely be expanded to 2-3 hitting partners for the second week.
He said all players would have the chance to play at least one warm up tournament before the Australian Open.
The men's ATP Cup teams tournament, two ATP events and two WTA tournaments take place in Melbourne the week beforehand.
"We can provide the necessary assurances that the quarantine environment will be one of the safest places in the world to be," said Tiley, adding that would also ensure community protection.
With entries due to close next week, Tiley said all of the world's top players were committed at this stage, although he admitted that could still change before the deadline arrived.
A question mark remains over biggest drawcard Roger Federer, who is hoping to fully overcome knee surgery in time to play.
Tiley said he'd been in touch with Federer's camp and the six-time champion had begun practising for the first time in the past three days as he begins his pre-season training camp in Dubai.
Australian Open tickets will go on sale from Wednesday, with Tiley bullish about likely crowd sizes but acknowledging that could change depending on any possible COVID-19 outbreaks.
"It is a forever changing position and (crowd) number but we fully expect to welcome at least 50 per cent of what we have previously had," he said.
Australian Associated Press