Marie Bouzkova anticipated some adjustment to her first tennis match in almost six months. First was the matter of shedding rust from the layoff brought on by the coronavirus shutdown. The Czech Republic participant additionally needed to get her thoughts across the inaugural High Seed Open and a considerably subdued aggressive ambiance with out spectators and a sprinkling of officers round heart courtroom.
“The start felt like apply as a result of my coach was clapping in some unspecified time in the future,” stated Bouzkova, who shortly tailored to upset No. Three seed Johonna Konta, 6-4, 6-Four on Monday. “However that quiet was a bit bit bizarre.” Say howdy to the brand new regular gamers will see for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.
This week’s occasion is the WTA Tour’s first U.S. competitors for the reason that shutdown. Added to the schedule in late July, the world’s prime gamers reminiscent of Serena and Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens goal to hone their hard-court abilities for the U.S. Open later this month. The Williams sisters are slated to start out taking part in Tuesday.
Working towards social distancing to forestall the unfold of COVID-19 is necessary, and simply practiced at High Seed. Gamers had been at reverse ends of the courtroom, after all, and the benches had been spaced six toes away on both facet of the umpire’s chair. Masks had been prevalent as nicely.
“The one time that we’re not sporting a masks is clearly on the courtroom,” Bouzkova stated, including that gamers are in the same bubble at their lodge. “Once you’re right here strolling inside, you’re sporting the masks the entire time.”
Konta donned a black masks throughout one nervous second through which she required medical consideration for an elevated coronary heart price. The British participant acknowledged earlier episodes however stated they ultimately subside earlier than she resumes play.
“I’m not frightened in any respect,” Konta stated.
Gamers praised circumstances on the High Seed Tennis Membership exterior Lexington, the place seating resembled extra of nation membership than a tennis stadium. Cushioned lounge chairs lined heart courtroom, although few had been occupied with competitors simply beginning.
A smattering of claps changed the same old loud applause on factors, although gamers’ grunts on returns appeared extra amplified. In a means, that appeared to be the right place to regain aggressive focus after time away.
“Clearly, we’ve performed a number of matches with lots of people watching, huge stadiums,” Konta stated. “However we’ve additionally performed a number of matches with no person watching, whether or not it’s late-night matches or simply the area we’re in.
“It nonetheless felt like a match ought to, however it additionally felt like I haven’t performed a WTA occasion in six months. It’s form of discovering your toes once more and discovering that area and with the ability to compete nicely.”
Different seeds superior previous People on Monday as No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus outlasted Madison Brengle, 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-2; No. 6 Magda Linette of Poland ousted Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-3; and No. eight seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia topped wild card Catherine McNally 6-2, 6-4.
Two unseeded People moved on as Jennifer Brady topped Britain’s Heather Watson, 6-2, 6-1; and Jessica Pegula bought previous Russian wild card Vera Zvonareva, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.