Tennis action in 2020 arrives in Austria for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. The tournament received its go-ahead from authorities a few weeks ago, and will be the second consecutive European indoor event after the one held in Ostrava, neighboring Czech Republic, a fortnight ago.
Among those in the line-up for this year’s pearl jubilee edition include doubles partners Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens, both being the two top seeds, and power hitters in Dayana Yastremska and former runner-up, Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Focus on Linz
The first edition of the event in the capital of Upper Austria state, Linz, came all the way back in 1991. Starting out as a Tier V event, Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere took home the inaugural title, defeating Petra Langrova in the final to lift her first title of the year. The Bulgarian-Swiss repeated that feat in 1993, now a Tier III event, defeating familiar nemesis Conchita Martínez in the final this time.
The tournament then went on to be promoted to Tier II status in 1998, with Jana Novotna sealing her second title of the tournament that year. In addition to Maleeva-Fragniere and Novotna, Sabine Appelmans, Lindsay Davenport, and Ana Ivanovic are also tied for most title wins here, at two.
The early to mid-2000s saw former world number ones Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, and Maria Sharapova lifting the trophy. More recent champions include Grand Slam champions and finalists in Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, and Dominika Cibulkova.
Last year’s champion, the teenager Coco Gauff, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser, upended a resurgent Jelena Ostapenko in the championship match for her maiden career title, which saw her become the youngest player to win a WTA title in over 15 years.
TipsArena, the tournament venue, first opened its doors to public nearly 50 years ago. It is located in the Waldegg area, on Ziegeleistraße, in the city center. Linz, situated along the Danube, is 30 kilometers south of the Czech border and the third-largest city in the federal republic.
Sabalenka headlines the draw, and the top seeds open her Austrian campaign against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini. One of Big-hitting Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova or qualifier Stefanie Voegele awaits the Belarussian in the next round.
Jil Teichmann, the seventh seed, sits across this quarter, and she will face French qualifier Oceane Dodin in her opener. Should the Swiss win that match, Sorana Cirstea or local wildcard Julia Grabher looms next.
Prediction: Sabalenka d. Dodin
Third seed Yastremska is in this quarter. The Ukrainian takes on Belgian Greet Minnen in the first round, with one of Czech Barbora Krejcikova or another French qualifier in Harmony Tan as her next opponent should she win that match.
Eighth seed Bernarda Pera, the sole American representation here, will meet Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the winner set to face the winner of an all-qualifier opener between Czech Tereza Martincova and Croatian Jana Fett.
Prediction: Sasnovich d. Yastremska
Former finalist Alexandrova and Czech Katerina Siniakova will go up against each other in what promises to a big-hitting clash, the winner next facing either Russian Varvara Gracheva or the lucky loser Katarina Zavatska of the Ukraine.
Across this quarter, it will be two opening matches pitting Romanophones against each other, sixth seed Nadia Podoroska taking on Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, while former champion Camila Giorgi face off against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, and the winner of those matches meeting each other for a quarterfinal berth. A rematch of the 2018 final, where Giorgi defeated Alexandrova, is on the cards.
Prediction: Giorgi d. Alexandrova
For the second year in a row, Austria’s Barbara Haas will face a seeded Russian opponent in her opener, this time in the form of fifth seed Veronika Kudermetova. The winner will take on one of Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus or Slovene Tamara Zidansek next.
Second seed Mertens bookends the draw, the Belgian drawing Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. Her next opponent will be the winner of a match of experience against youth, where wildcard Vera Zvonareva and Ukrainian youngster Marta Kostyuk go head-to-head.
Prediction: Kostyuk d. Kudermetova