Pro ten­nis re­sumes with no hand­shakes or show­ers

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Htsport - sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Tour-level ten­nis re­sumed af­ter a five-month en­forced break on Mon­day, and play­ers at the Palermo Ladies Open had to han­dle their own tow­els and not shake hands of op­po­nents. The strict rules be­cause of the Covid-19 in­cluded no show­ers on site, and no au­to­graphs or pho­tos with fans. Play­ers in the sin­gles main draw come from 16 Euro­pean coun­tries and Ar­gentina..

A lim­ited num­ber of fans were al­lowed into the 1,500-seat sta­dium court and had to fol­low so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures. They watched sixth-seeded Donna Vekic of Croa­tia beat Aran­txa Rus of the Nether­lands 6-1, 6-2 in windy con­di­tions in the first of­fi­cial match—for men or women— since early March.

“I’m def­i­nitely happy I didn’t for­get how to play ten­nis, how to play matches, how to win,” Vekic said in a video con­fer­ence. “It’s a huge re­lief so I’m re­ally happy right now. It was def­i­nitely a bit strange. I was re­ally ner­vous yes­ter­day, even more to­day, but af­ter the first few games I just kind of re­laxed and I was fo­cused.”

Vekic sealed a place in the sec­ond round on her sec­ond match point, break­ing for the sixth time in the match when Rus hit a fore­hand wide. Vekic will next face Ital­ian teenager Elis­a­betta Coc­cia­retto, who beat Polona Hercog of Slove­nia 7-6 (1), 6-3 for her first vic­tory over a player ranked in the top 50. But be­yond this week Vekic has lit­tle idea if her plans could change as the pan­demic con­tin­ues to af­fect events world­wide. Vekic is hop­ing to com­pete in the US Open, where she reached the quar­ter­fi­nals last year, and the French Open as well as Rome. “Things are chang­ing every week so I think we just have to take it week by week and try to adapt as best as we can, and hope to play as much as we can,” Vekic said. “The un­cer­tainty gives ev­ery­one a lot of anx­i­ety.”

The US Open is sched­uled to be­gin Aug. 31, and the French Open from Sept. 27.

Laura Siege­mund of Ger­many also eased through in straight sets, beat­ing Irina-Camelia Begu of Ro­ma­nia 6-3, 6-4. Siege­mund next faces ei­ther fourth-seeded Anett Kon­taveit or Pa­tri­cia Maria.

MADRID OPEN CAN­CELLED

MADRID: The Madrid Open in Septem­ber was can­celled be­cause of a new spike in Covid-19 cases in Spain. The joint men’s and women’s tour­na­ment was orig­i­nally sched­uled in May, but moved when Spain be­came a hot­bed for the virus. Its new slot in Septem­ber al­lowed it again to be a ma­jor lead-in event for the resched­uled French Open at the end of that month.

But or­gan­is­ers last week­end were ad­vised by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties not to stage the tour­na­ment due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.

GETTY

Jas­mine Paolini (left) of Italy touches rac­quets with Daria Kasatk­ina of Rus­sia af­ter their WTA Palermo Open match.

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