After more than five months, the WTA tennis os back on board, with the players chasing the title in Palermo. Next week, Prague and Lexington will join the circuit, as the leading events towards the US Open that starts on the last day of August.
The organizers in New York are doing their best to stage the second Major event of the season, but many players are not convinced by their safety measures and regulations. World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty had decided to skip the US Open a couple of days ago, followed by world no.
5 Elina Svitolina, who will not chase the title in New York too. The 25-year-old is not ready to put her team and herself into any risks, deciding to stay in Europe and compete in September. The Ukrainian has played six WTA tournaments so far in 2020, losing three of the first five encounters for early losses in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Things went from bad to worse in Thailand, Dubai and Doha, with Elina finally finding the rhythm in Monterrey, lifting the trophy without facing the rivals from the top-50. After seven early exits at the US Open since 2012, Svitolina finally found the right formula in New York last year, beating Whitney Osuigwe, Venus Williams, Dayana Yastremska, Madison Keys and Johanna Konta.
Thus, she advanced into the second consecutive Major semi-final after Wimbledon, facing Serena Williams in the battle for the final. Serena won that one 6-3, 6-1 in 70 minutes, advancing into her tenth final in New York. The home favorite had the upper hand from start to finish, saving all six break points and earning three breaks to march over the top in no time.
Williams had 33 winners and 20 unforced errors, taming her shots beautifully and never stepping back against one of the best baseliners in the game to mount the entire pressure on her.
Elina Svitolina will miss the US Open for the first time since 2011.
The American fended off three break chances in the first game to avoid a shaky start, prevailing in a marathon second game with a backhand return winner to steal Svitolina's serve and move 2-0 up.
Serving at 3-1, Serena repelled three more break chances and sailed through games seven and nine to close the opener with a service winner after 41 minutes. Elina was never a contender in set number two, taking three points on the return and suffering three straight breaks to push Serena into another title match.
Hitting with depth and precision from both wings, Williams grabbed a break in the third game, extending the gap when Elina sprayed a forehand error in game five, holding at 15 in the next game thanks to a forehand down the line winner and forcing Svitolina to serve to stay in the match.
The Ukrainian couldn't do anything to prolong the encounter, allowing Serena to seal the deal with a backhand down the line winner and get a chance to fight for the seventh US Open crown. "Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020.
I want to thank the USTA, organizers and WTA for giving the players a chance to play and the fans a chance to watch this great event. I understand and respect all the efforts they are putting into making it happen in a safe environment.
However, I still don't feel comfortable traveling to the USA without putting my team and myself at high risk," Elina Svitolina said.