wo Grand Slam champions. A finalist from last year’s French Open. A handful of top-20 gamers.
With second-ranked Simona Halep joined by 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and last year’s Roland Garros finalist Markéta Vondroušová, this year’s Palermo Ladies Open tennis event can be like no different.
“The entry list is incredible. It’s practically like a Premier,” event director Oliviero Palma said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press this week, referring to the WTA Tour’s top-level occasions.
Also entered are No. 14 Johanna Konta, No. 14 Petra Martić and No. 20 Maria Sakkari.
The cause for such a high-profile subject in a small clay-court event normally omitted by prime gamers is easy: The Aug. 3-9 event marks the return of tour-level tennis following a five-month break for the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the first official event — for males or girls — since early March.
“It’s certainly a big honor for us but also a matter of great responsibility,” Palma said. “We’re the first in the world and we need to experiment all of the new rules.”
Rules comparable to gamers dealing with their own towels as a substitute of being assisted by ball children; no handshakes at the finish of matches; no autographs or photos with followers; and no showers for gamers at the venue.
Players and anybody who comes into contact with gamers can be administered nasal swab exams for COVID-19 earlier than they depart for Palermo, upon arrival after which once more each 4 days.
So far, the largest downside for the event hasn’t been constructive exams however journey restrictions, which resulted in the withdrawal of two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and have restricted the subject to completely European gamers.
“We knew when we decided to go forward with the tournament that there would be some unexpected developments,” Palma said. “All we can do is keep our fingers crossed.”
Palma revealed that third-ranked Karolína Plíšková additionally requested for a top-10 wild card like Halep however that the Czech participant will come provided that the U.S. Open is canceled.
“Otherwise she’ll head to the U.S. at the start of August,” Palma said. “These tournaments are going to become more like regional events in these conditions. There’s going to be an American circuit and a European circuit.”
On Thursday, 11 males’s and girls’s tournaments deliberate for China in October and November — together with the WTA Finals — had been canceled as a result of of the pandemic.
While Italy was the international epicenter of the virus in March and has recorded greater than 35,000 deaths from COVID-19, Sicily was not onerous hit and counted solely 163 constructive instances in its newest report.
A restricted quantity of followers can be permitted to attend the event, with 280 spectators allowed in for every session, bringing the whole quantity of individuals inside the 1,500-seat stadium court docket — together with gamers — to 327.
Fans and anybody else attending may even be examined for the virus.
With fewer tickets bought, event prize cash has been lowered from $250,000 in 2019 to $222,500.
“A top-10 player could care less about the prize money here,” Palma said. “They’re coming just because they want to play and return to their normal lives.”