wo Grand Slam champions. A finalist from final 12 months’s French Open. A handful of top-20 gamers.
With second-ranked Simona Halep joined by 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and final 12 months’s Roland Garros finalist Markéta Vondroušová, this 12 months’s Palermo Girls Open tennis event shall be like no different.
“The entry listing is unbelievable. It’s virtually like a Premier,” event director Oliviero Palma stated in a cellphone interview with The Related Press this week, referring to the WTA Tour’s top-level occasions.
Additionally entered are No. 14 Johanna Konta, No. 14 Petra Martić and No. 20 Maria Sakkari.
The explanation for such a high-profile subject in a small clay-court event often ignored by high gamers is straightforward: The Aug. 3-9 occasion marks the return of tour-level tennis following a five-month break for the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the primary official occasion — for males or ladies — since early March.
“It’s actually a giant honor for us but additionally a matter of nice duty,” Palma stated. “We’re the primary on the earth and we have to experiment the entire new guidelines.”
Guidelines corresponding to gamers dealing with their very own towels as an alternative of being assisted by ball youngsters; no handshakes on the finish of matches; no autographs or images with followers; and no showers for gamers on the venue.
Gamers and anybody who comes into contact with gamers shall be administered nasal swab assessments for COVID-19 earlier than they depart for Palermo, upon arrival after which once more each 4 days.
Thus far, the largest drawback for the event hasn’t been constructive assessments however journey restrictions, which resulted within the withdrawal of two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and have restricted the sector to solely European gamers.
“We knew once we determined to go ahead with the event that there could be some sudden developments,” Palma stated. “All we will do is maintain 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.
“In any other case she’ll head to the U.S. in the beginning of August,” Palma stated. “These tournaments are going to grow to be extra like regional occasions in these situations. There’s going to be an American circuit and a European circuit.”
On Thursday, 11 males’s and ladies’s tournaments deliberate for China in October and November — together with the WTA Finals — have been canceled due to the pandemic.
Whereas Italy was the worldwide epicenter of the virus in March and has recorded greater than 35,000 deaths from COVID-19, Sicily was not arduous hit and counted solely 163 constructive circumstances in its newest report.
A restricted variety of followers shall be permitted to attend the event, with 280 spectators allowed in for every session, bringing the whole variety of individuals contained in the 1,500-seat stadium courtroom — together with gamers — to 327.
Followers and anybody else attending can even be examined for the virus.
With fewer tickets offered, event prize cash has been decreased from $250,000 in 2019 to $222,500.
“A top-10 participant might care much less in regards to the prize cash right here,” Palma stated. “They’re coming simply because they need to play and return to their regular lives.”