The weekly column is back presenting the next seven days of tennis, absent in the last five months due to the global pandemic that forced tennis to a dramatic and forced halt. In the last two weeks the WTA tournaments have been played in Palermo, Lexington and Prague, while this week the ATP Tour will also return, with the combined event Western & Southern Open, exceptionally at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, in the health bubble New York, and not in the usual location in Cincinnati.
So we decided to start again from a week 1 (from 24 to 30 August 2020), as if tennis had restarted from its ashes, reborn like the phoenix. Among a thousand difficulties, related to the absences of many stars and the precarious health security conditions, as the spread of Covid-19 is still a major global health problem.
Yet the game has restarted. And there is a schedule until the end of the season. At the Western & Southern Open (USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, on hard-courts) a taste of great tennis before the US Open, there will be many absences, both in the men's singles and in the women's singles.
The Western & Southern Open and the other events of this week
Out at the ATP Masters 1000 Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini, Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Jarry.
The situation in women's singles is even more dramatic, with the absences of Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Andreescu, Kiki Bertens, Belinda Bencic, Wang Qiang, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Saisai Zheng, Julia Goerges, Barbora Strycova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Fiona Ferro , Lin Zhu, Yafan Wang, Anastasia Potapanova and Samantha Stosur.
Among the stars there will be Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stefanis Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova. This week there will also be two ATP Challengers events: the RPM Open (Prague, Czech Republic, on clay-courts) and the Internazionali di Tennis Città di Trieste (Trieste, Italy, on clay-courts).
The Challengers kicked off on August 17th, with Stan Wawrinka winning at the Advantage Cars Prague Open, on clay-courts. Obviously there will be no crowds in the stands and the bubble will be divided into three different levels, to allow greater safety and the fewest possible contacts: social distancing and respect for health protocols are the basis of the restart of tennis in this period of coexistence with the virus.