Tennis-Palermo Open marks return of professional tours

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Croatia’s Petra Martic will be the highest-ranked player at 15th with Czech Marketa Vondrousova and Maria Sakkari of Greece being the other top 20 players in the field.

There were, however, some more last-minute health hazards for the organizers to deal with as two players tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Organizers said they returned negative results when they underwent a Polymerase Chain Reaction test, currently being used to detect COVID-19.

“The procedures that have been put in place by the WTA, the Palermo Open and local jurisdiction were immediately followed and will continue throughout the tournament,” the WTA said.

The event has put in place strict health protocols with everyone having to undergo COVID-19 tests before they come to the tournament as well as on arrival and then every four days.

During the event players have to handle their own towels and there will be a smaller team of ball kids and lines officials but a limited number of spectators are allowed in the stands.

“We are happy to play in front of the public, even though in a drastically reduced number due to COVID-19 prevention measures,” tournament director Oliviero Palma said, adding that only a few tickets remained unsold.

“Now more than ever, we could have filled a 5,000-spectator stadium.”

Palma has said that the event, which will have a reduced prize pot of $202,250 due to financial constraints, will run losses but his responsibility was to prove that professional tennis can resume safely. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)