The COVID-19 edition of the WTA season will conclude next week with a whimper as the Upper Austria Ladies celebrates a subdued 30th edition.
After the upsurge in virus cases forced a reduction of fans in the stands from a hoped-for 1,000 per day to the current mandate of 100, TD Sandra Reichel is taking the setback in her stride as she prepares for the Linz tournament..
““There is no such thing as impossible”, she said. “The strong signal is that our anniversary tournament can take place.
“We knew from the start that this year would be a special challenge and have prepared ourselves for all eventualities.
“Playing a tournament without spectators was always the variant that we pushed the furthest away – but we have also prepared for it,”
The event will struggle to attract the attention it enjoyed in 2019 when US teen Coco Gauff earned her first – and only so far – WTA title.
Past winners at the TipsArena have included Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Karolina Plisjkova and Angelique Kerber.
With numbers of people in the house now strictly limited, tournament officials have worked out an action plan which will focus on maximum TV exposure.
“We have developed a concept at the highest security level. The motto this year is ‘Safety First,” Reichel said.
“The protection of the players, the officials and our employees is paramount,” she said of the event where No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus takes the top seeding.
“The Upper Austria Ladies 2020 will certainly remain in special memories: The anniversary tournament – second-oldest indoor tournament on the WTA calendar – will once again have a top-class field of participants in its 30th edition and offer world-class tennis for women.”
Reichel is counting on additional outside attention as the WTA shuts down for 2020: “The tennis world will be there live in Linz even in Corona times,” she said.