Andrew Harris says his thoughts are with bushfire victims and there has been no disruption to his preparations after the Apis Canberra International was relocated to Bendigo over safety concerns.
The unprecedented decision was made in consultation with local authorities due to ongoing bushfire activity in the region.
Emageo Group pair Matt Ebden and Harris, who will both launch their 2020 seasons at the event, are among those who will now make their way to Bendigo to compete.
Harris said his heart went out to bushfire victims and the movement of a tournament was a minor issue for players.
The Melbourne-based 25-year-old had been due to fly to Canberra this morning but cancelled his flight when he realised he wouldn’t be able to train before he was informed of the relocation today.
Harris will now drive the two-hour journey to Bendigo from Melbourne instead.
“I got a good training day in today,” Harris said. “There will be no disruption in my preparations.
“Obviously it’s terrible with all the bushfires and seeing what’s happening up there in NSW.
“I guess we’re a little bit shielded from it down here in Melbourne. But then when you see it on the news – what’s going on there and some of the videos I see on Twitter – it’s just awful. I feel really sorry for everyone dealing with that.
“Relocating a tournament is nothing in respect to what everyone else up there is going through.”
Tennis ACT Chief Executive Kim Kachel said the health of players, fans, volunteers and staff was the biggest priority.
“Unfortunately, the best advice from the weather and fire experts is that the conditions over the next few days mean it is unlikely there would be any play,” Kachel said. “With conditions too unpredictable the decision was made to relocate at the earliest available opportunity.”
Tennis Australia Chief Executive Craig Tiley said they had been closely monitoring the situation.
“We know how important the tournament is for players preparing to play at the Australian Open and the decision to move the tournament from Canberra to Bendigo has been made to ensure they can still compete,” Tiley said.
Harris said he was looking forward to starting his new season after a fruitful training period at home.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I had a good pre-season, got a lot of work done and I’m just ready to play some tournaments now. “I have trained a lot. You get a bit sick of training and you’re ready to compete and start playing some tournaments so now I’m excited.”
Harris said the strong field at the tournament was the ideal start.
“With the ATP Cup and no Brisbane Tour event on at the same time, it makes this Challenger a lot stronger than lead-ins previous years so it’s a good opportunity to play some really good opponents,” he said.