October 23, 2020

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Linz WTA tourney finds new dates in November

Linz

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ROLAND GARROS – At the conclusion of this year’s Roland Garros, there was officially only one more WTA Tour event on the schedule until the end of this 2020 season on the brink.

On Friday, some good news: The Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament has found new dates.

The long-standing women’s event was to celebrate its 30th anniversary and be held next week before being put on hold.

The organizers announced Friday that it won’t be cancelled outright.

It will take place from Nov. 7-15.

Indoor event in Austria

Unlike most of the tournaments held so far, the Linz event involves additional challenges because it is an indoor event.

It won’t be the first, though. So it can get some good intel from the events that will precede it.

Linz
Coco Gauff went from the qualifying to the title at the WTA event in Linz, Austria last fall.

Tournament director Sandra Reichel said the plan was to have 1,000 spectators per day in the Tips Arena.

That’s what Roland Garros was allowed to have through the fortnight of a (mostly) outdoor Grand Slam, over a much larger site.

But it’s evident that the number of fans allowed into tournaments is a fluid situation at the moment.

The other challenge for players who aren’t based in Europe is that there will be three weeks between the proposed event in Ostrava, and this one.

Will Ostrava still be a go?

The newly-formed WTA tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic, scheduled to begin in a little over a week, also appears to still be a go.

It’s gotten a little trickier in recent days. The Czech Republic has just added more strict measures to combat a new wave of the coronavirus in that country.

As of Monday, all professional and recreational sports activities will be cancelled, and indoor sports venues closed, per Idnes.cz.

Outdoors, the limit would be 20, and health minister Roman Prymula stated that tennis and soccer could be played outdoors. But nothing indoors.

Hockey hard hit in Czech Republic

There are to be no soccer or hockey league games – “organized sports competitions”, as they put it – for the two weeks from Monday. That, of course, includes the WTA Tournament scheduled to begin Ot. 19.

According to the story, “international” soccer matches will have an exemption. But they will be played without fans, Prymula said.

Sparta, Liberec and Slavia play in the European League, and have games scheduled during the second week of the ban.

The story also outlines the issues the professional hockey leagues have had with the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, eight teams are in quarantine because of positive tests.

No fans, but still a tournament

The tournament, of course, is asking for the same exemption expected to be granted to the soccer clubs.

“I don’t want to think about it at all. We have already done so much work in preparing the tournament and the event is so close. So I believe that we will get the exception that Mr Prymula talked about,” tournament director Tomas Petera told Blesk. “And that, in addition to the significance of the whole event, the quality of the coronavirus security that accompanies the WTA tournaments will decide here.”

(The above is through Google Translate, and shouldn’t be considered a perfect translation).

They have booked off an entire hotel for two weeks for the tournament. The 169-room hotel is far from a five-star. But it’s located just 200 metres from the venue. And unlike in Paris, no one other than the people involved in the tournament will be able to reserve a room.

Open Court has contacted the tournament director of the WTA tournament Seoul, Korea which was postponed from its scheduled dates this week.

It was the other tournament that wasn’t cancelled outright, though. Even though it now stands alone in the ashes of what was once the key Asian swing on the WTA Tour, it may still be held.

A Premier tourney at the last minute

It was already impressive that the relevant parties in the Czech Republic were able to put together a Premier-level tournament within a few weeks. It is to boast more than $500,000 in prize money, even if that money is going to players who are already top 100 and obviously in less need than the lower-ranked players.

That there will now be no revenue from ticket sales or concessions is definitely not optimal.

The original entry list was off the charts – 18 of the top 24 players in the world had signed on. The last original entry was No. 24 Maria Sakkari.

Muguruza
Garbiñe Muguruza was one of the top players originally signed on to play in Ostrava. She has since withdrawn.

Since then, a number have withdrawn: Kiki Bertens, Garbiñe Muguruza, Madison Keys, Angelique Kerber and Alison Riske.

Petra Kvitova, who reached the Roland Garros semifinals and Sofia Kenin, who defeated her to reach Saturday’s final, remain on the list.

Iga Swiatek, who also is in the women’s singles final in Paris, remains on the list although she is still a long way out of a main draw spot, as she entered on her pre-Roland Garros ranking of No. 53.

The cutoff for the qualifying currently sits at No. 70 (Sara Sorribes Tormo). Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia (whose season is over) and Julia Goerges have withdrawn from the qualies.

Talk that the WTA might try to relocate its Tour Finals from Shenzhen, China this year was, apparently, just idle talk without substance.

Long list of ATP Tour events

In contrast to the sparse availability of playing opportunities on the women’s side, the men have a fairly full slate of tournaments on the schedule. They will run right through to the ATP Tour Finals in London in November.

Beginning on Monday, a pair of 250-level tournaments are to take place in Cologne, Germany.

Those are brand-new events, two among several that have popped up as the ATP allowed one-off licenses to be issued during this challenging, virus-impacted season.

Long-established tournament in Moscow and Basel have been cancelled. But others have popped up in their place.