Australian Open organisers are confident they will see a full crop of the world's top players, including six-times champion Roger Federer, at next year's delayed opening Grand Slam - that will be played in front of spectators.

Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government confirmed that the tournament had been pushed back three weeks to start on February 8 after drawn-out negotiations over Covid-19 measures.

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"We have a commitment from every player in the world to be in Australia," tournament director Craig Tiley said. "Obviously it being the start of the season anything can happen with that entry list, but the commitment is there. Every player, including Roger, have committed."

Federer had cast some doubt as to whether he would be fit enough for the tournament after he had two surgeries on a knee injury last year and missed the majority of the season.

The 39-year-old Swiss told local media this month that his recovery was behind schedule, but Tiley said he had been in touch with the 20-time Grand Slam champion who had begun his usual pre-season training block in Dubai - and that the later start improved his chances of being in the field in Melbourne.

"He said to us that February 8 was a more suitable date for him in terms of preparing for the Australian Open," Tiley added. "But a lot will depend on how he responds to his surgery in the next two to three weeks."

Strict measures have been put in place to ensure the event is as safe as possible, with the tournament flying players in on chartered flights - and competitors would undergo regular coronavirus tests.

A key demand from the players was the ability to be able to practice regularly, and Tiley confirmed the green light had been given for up to five hours a day of training.

We would not be in a position to run the Australian Open if the players were required to stay in their hotel room for two weeks."

While plans remain fluid due to the potential for future outbreaks of Covid-19, Tiley expects the players to be welcomed by decent crowds at Melbourne Park.

"We do expect to have good crowds," he said, suggesting up to 50% of the 840,000 that attended this year's tournament could be in attendance. "But this is not a year that we try to beat numbers."

(With additional reporting from Reuters)

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