The stadium announcer at the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo on Monday wished a warm and welcome return to tennis lovers as the WTA tournament in Italy started five months after the past one, with bottles of hand sanitizer attached to the nets.
The event comes just weeks before the US Open and Roland Garros double-header, but lost original top seed Simona Halep to lingering health concerns, while an unnamed player withdrew from qualifying after testing positive for COVID-19.
There were about 350 fans allowed into a venue built for 1,500.
Sofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina captured titles on March 8, the last day of competitive matches before the circuit was put on hold as the tennis calendar was shaken upside down.
The prestigious Indian Wells event in the California desert became the first competition to be axed due to the pandemic.
The French Open was then moved to late September, with Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War II.
When Croatia’s Donna Vekic and the Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus took to the clay court late on Monday, about 150 days after the sport’s hiatus started, they were not wearing face masks.
After Vekic won, she told reporters via videoconferencing that she was happy to have remembered how to play tennis.
“It’s weird, sometimes funny with all the protocols — masks on your face, visors and screens in the transport,” she said. “Of course it’s necessary, but so different from before — it seems unreal.”
The line judges and umpire were masked, and the players had to stand behind a social distancing line to approach them.
The stands are cleared and disinfected after each match.
Players in the second meeting were told to wear their masks during the rest periods and to sanitize their hands from the dispensing bottles attached to the net poles.
There were hand gel bottles placed in the passages between the seats and at the entrances.
Hand shaking or hugging after the matches is forbidden, with players instead tapping rackets over the net from a safe distance.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first