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Simona Halep signs up to Ladies Open in Palermo

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Simona Halep has signed up to play at the Ladies Open in Palermo in the first week of August. The former world number 1 and 2019 Wimbledon champion made the announcement in a video message released across the tournament’s social media:

 

“I am very happy to announce I will be back in Palermo after ten years. I hope to have a great week over there. See you soon”, said Halep.

 Halep has not played on the WTA Tour since her win in the final of the Dubai Premier tournament against Elena Rybakina, who will be also in the line-up in Palermo.

“Halep’s participation is exceptional news. It had been decades since Palermo last hosted a former world number 1 player. Our city is very devoted to world tennis. Her presence is one of great interest for everybody”, said Palermo Ladies Open Tournament Director Oliviero Palma.

The impressive line-up also features five top 20 players: Aryna Sabalenka (world number 11), Petra Martic (15), Elena Rybakina (17), Marketa Vondrousova (18) and Maria Sakkari (20).

“We will have Halep, five players ranked between number 10 and 20 and four ranked between 30 and 40. The cut-off is at world number 69. It’s really incredible. We could call a Premier tournament, although it’s an International level tournament. Camila Giorgi has also accepted a wildcard into the tournament, making her the highest-ranked Italian in the draw, and that there was another spot reserved should another top 10 player wish to enter”, said Palma.

The Palermo Ladies Open will be held with respect of social distancing rules to keep the spread of covid-19 under control.

“We wil follow all the WTA protocols. All players will undergo serological tests. We feel the weight of responsibility. We are optimism but we must be careful and guarantee the safety for everyone. The crowd will have to respect all norms. The tournament is a great opportunity for Palermo, tennis and the entire sport world. This is a starting point ”, continued Palma.   

Palma confirmed that Italian television channel Rai Sport will broadcast two live matches a day and the tournament will be broadcast in 160 countries around the world.

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Roger Federer trains with Dominic Stricker in Dubai

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has been training hard with his compatriot Dominic Stricker in Dubai, where he traditionally spends his off-season. Federer published a photo on his social media with Dominic Stricker, who won the Roland Garros Junior title and current world junior number three. 

 

Stricker made a comment on his Instagram account: 

“What three weeks. I really enjoyed every single minute in Dubai. What a great start to the new season. I am looking forward to playing some tournaments. Thanks to Roger Federer and his team for these great practices”, said Dominic Stricker. 

Federer will skip the Australian Open, but he may make his come-back in Rotterdam or Dubai. His main goals for the 2021 season are Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympi Games in Tokyo. He has pulled out of the Australian Open because his wife Mirka did not approve of the quarantine conditions set out for his family. 

“Roger had two options. He could come with the whole family and quarantine. The problem is that Mirka and his children could not leave the room. They would have to stay 14 days in the room”, said Australian Open director of player relations Andre Sa. 

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The Rotterdam ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors

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Organisers announced that the 48th edition of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will be held behind closed doors from 1 to 7 March 2021 because of the current epidemiological situation and the measures to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

The tickets already sold for the 2021 edition will be moved to the 49th edition in 2022. It does not mean that there will not be fans in the arena. In the event that this turns out to be possible, fans, who have already bought the tickets, will be contacted. Because the capacity is expected to be limited with the latest information regarding the situation in the Netherlands, this will be announced at a later stage. It has alreaady decided to postpone the tickets from 2021 to 2022. 

“As much as we regret it, we are making the decision now to move all tickets for the coming edition to 2022. That way, every fan has the certainty that he or she can attend the tournament next year at the seat and the day he or she wants. Should it turn out last minute that we can offer tickets for 2021, we will give the people who have already tickets now the opportunity to be there”, said Rotterdam tournament Director Richard Kraijcek. 

The star-studded Rotterdam already features 2020 ATP Finals champion Danil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev (winner in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna in 2020), three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, former top 10 player and 2017 ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin, 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori and 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner. 

Medvedev will play in the Dutch city for the fourth time in his career. He made his debut at this tournament in 2018 as a qualifier, when he was ranked world number 57. He returned to Rotterdam in 2016 as world number 16. He reached the semifinal before losing to Gael Monfils, who went on to win the tournament. 

Wawrinka will make his fifth appearance in Rotterdam. The Swiss player has won 16 ATP titles, including Rotterdam in 2015, when he beat Tomas Berdych in the final. He won the Australian Open in 2014, Roland Garros in 2015 and the US Open in 2016 and reached a career-high of world number 3. He is one of the few players besides the big three to win multiple Grand Slam titles in the last decade. Wawrinka is now ranked world number 18. 

Nishikori will play in Rotterdam for the second time. The Japanese player reached the semifinal in 2019, when he was beaten by Wawrinka in three sets. Nishikori will chase the 13th title of his career. He claimed his first tournament in Delray Beach in 2008 and won five of his twelve titles in indoor court tournaments.  Sinner made his debut in Rotterdam in 2019 and beat then world number 10 David Goffin in straight sets, but he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta in the tie-break of the third set. World number 37 Sinner is the youngest player in the top 100 and won his first ATP Tour title in Sofia last November. 

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Dominic Thiem hopes that tennis will get back to normal in 2021

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World number 3 Dominic Thiem has travelled to Adelaide, where he is serving a two-week quarantine before heading to Melbourne for the second edition of the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. 

 

Thiem is aiming to win a second Grand Slam title after claiming the US Open trophy last September beating Alexander Zverev in the final. He clinched his Grand Slam title in his fourth final. 

“I have been on vacation a little longer than usual, and the training went well. For the first two and a half weeks, I only did fitness.  The presence of physio Alex Stober since the days before Christmas was very helpful. In the first week, I can play with a training partner and two others in the second set. We can also go out from the third week, probably for the first time without a mask since Indian Wells 2020. That is sensational. I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years”,said Thiem.

Last year Thiem came back from two sets down to beat Zverev in a five-set tie-break at last September’s US Open after 4 hours and 2 minutes. He became the second Austrian player to win a Grand Slam title after Thomas Muster, who won the French Open in 1995. 

The Austrian player lost a five-set quarter final to Diego Schwartzman at the French Open in five hours and eight minutes. He was not able to reach the Roland Garros semifinal for the first time in five years. Thiem qualified for the semifinal in Paris in 2016 and 2017 and two consecutive finals in 2018 and 2019, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal both times. 

Thiem hopes that tennis will be back to normal after the pandemic affected the 2020 season. 

“I hope that we can play throughout the entire year and repeat the results from the previous couple of years. I also wish our lives get back to normal by the summer months”, said Thiem. 

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