Palermo Open 2020 Preview and Predictions

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Palermo Open 2020 Preview and Predictions

The WTA is back with the Palermo Open! This is the first official tournament since the WTA shut down due to the pandemic, and it promises to be entertaining and competitive. The tournament will take place from August 3rd to the 9th and will count with a top-notch field that includes, Johanna Konta (#14), Petra Martic (#15), Marketa Vondrousova (#18), Maria Sakkari (#20), Anett Kontaveit (#22), Elise Mertens (#23), Donna Vekic (#24), and Dayana Yamstrenksa (#25) just to name a few. In all, the small Palermo tournament will be hosting 18 top 50 players in an entry field of 32. Quite impressive for the Palermo Open which is at the lowest tier level for the WTA. However, given the five-month break, everyone is itching to get into top level tennis.

Initially, Simona Halep was going to lead the field, but unfortunately, due to health and travel concerns, the #2 ranked player in the world has decided to stay put in her native Romania. That’s too bad because her inclusion would have rounded out the greatest field of players Palermo has ever gathered. Nevertheless, this tournament is going to be very competitive. Any of these top players could potentially take it.

Players will be playing in front of a 350 people instead of the usual capacity of 1,000 in stadium court. This will be the norm going forward. Also, instead of the usual $250,000 in prize money commitment, the WTA is allowing for a $200,000 total financial commitment for prize money due to the loss of revenue from spectators.

So, who’s favorite here? With so many great players, it’s anyone’s guess. Also, all these players are European, which means they will be right at home in the clay. Here’s my top 5 favorites:

Marketa Vondrousova (18): Make no mistake, Vondrousova is a rising star, and was ripping through draws before her wrist injury, which she had surgery on in September of 2019. Before that unfortunate injury, Vondrousova reached three finals, including the French Open final, where she went down to Ashleigh Barty in two sets. She had a bad start to the 2020 season; however, she’s been looking good in the exhibitions and she tends to shine on the clay.

Dayana Yamstrenska (#25): This 20-year-old is one of the top rising youngsters on the WTA tour. She plays with grit, smarts, athleticism and power. She already holds three WTA titles to her name, all won before the age of 20. In the past few months she’s been coached by Sascha Bajin, considered one of the best around. She’ll come out swinging at this tournament and can win.

Petra Martic (#15): This scrappy veteran at 29 years of age has spent much of her life outside of the top 50 until her breakthrough 2019. It all seemed to come together for her as she reached the quarterfinals at the French Open, Madrid and Wuhan. This allowed her to finish the year ranked #15 in the world. She is a solid competitor who will go deep in this tournament, but not win it if rising stars like Yamstremska and Vondrousova have anything to say about it.

Donna Vekic (#24): at 24 years of age, Vekic is not exactly a rising youngster. That being said, she has been steadily rising up the ranks for the last few years, culminating in her first top 20 finish to 2019. She reached the fourth round of the French Open, and the Quarters of the US Open last year. She has a great first serve and likes to take the ball early and hit the corners. She’s more of a hard-court specialist, but as of late she goes deep in tournaments no matter the surface.

Johanna Konta (#14): she will be the highest seed, and rightly so. After a disappointing 2018 season, this former top 10 player was back to her winning ways in 2019, finishing the year ranked #12 in the world with a semifinal appearance at the French Open, and quarterfinals appearances at both Wimbledon and the US Open. She also reached the final in Rome. She can play in clay. Don’t be surprised if she holds the title at the end of the week.

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