Last month, the WTA announced the replacement of the Nurnberger Gastein Ladies held in Bad Gastein, Austria with a tournament in Gstaad, southwestern Switzerland, the inaugural Ladies Championship Gstaad. Gstaad will be a combined event with the men playing the week after the ladies.
Bad Gastein, a regular clay court stop held in between Wimbledon and the US Open Series bid goodbye to the WTA calendar having host the tournament since 2007 and had seen the likes of Grand Slam champions Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone lift the trophy. Andrea Petkovic holds the record for most titles won, triumphing in 2009 and 2014.
In April 2017, Gstaad will be joined by a new tournament held in Biel/Bienne. Both events will be International-level ones (lowest-tier tournaments in the WTA).
Biel/Bienne, located in northwestern Switzerland is a half-an-hour drive from the capital city of Bern and an approximate 100-minute drive from Gstaad. The tournament will be held in a newly-bulit indoor arena and will take place after the conclusion of the Indian Wells/Miami double held in March.
WTA CEO Steve Simon stated "Swiss tennis is enjoying an exceptional era and we're delighted the beautiful town of Biel will be part of the WTA calendar in 2017. We invite our fans to be part of the excitement and enjoy outstanding world-class tennis in Biel."
WTA's history of Swiss tournaments
WTA's presence in Switzerland prior to 2016 used to be represented by the Zurich Open and European Open. The Zurich Open held its 25th and final edition in 2008 before it was abolished. It was played on indoor hard courts every October. Venus Williams was its last champion when she defeated Flavia Pennetta in the 2008 final.
On the other hand, the European Open (played on clay) which held its first edition in Gstaad in 1969 relocated four times, all within Switzerland throughout its 26-year history, to Lugano in 1981, Geneva in 1987 and Lucerne in 1992.
Current state of Swiss tennis
Swiss tennis is sky high at the moment, with Belinda Bencic and Martina Hingis both in the top 10 singles and doubles rankings respectively. Bencic currently occupies the 10th spot whereas Hingis is co-world number ones with regular partner, Sania Mirza. Timea Bacsinszky is also not far behind Bencic in singles at number 17. Over on the men's side, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka affirm Switzerland's presence in the top 10 rankings.
With the bliss of tournaments in the Swiss Confederation both on the men's (Basel, Geneva and Gstaad) and women's side, could this lead to even more breakthroughs in Swiss tennis in the coming years?