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Belinda Bencic: "No normal person travels to America now"
Belinda Bencic and Jil Teichmann don't yet know what the rest of the season will look like. Image: keystone
Bencic on US Open start: "No normal person travels to America now"
On Monday, the WTA Tour in Palermo will resume operations after four months. Nevertheless, there are still many question marks, even among the top Swiss players. The largest is at the US Open.
Jil Teichmann would be the defending champion in Palermo, and until a few weeks ago the 22-year-old from Biel was also preparing for this tournament. Then the WTA - like the ATP - adapted the rules for the world rankings. If you play the same event in 2019 and 2020, the better of the two results will be considered. Ideally, Teichmann would not be able to gain a WTA point in Sicily. So the left-hander, who was born in Barcelona, decided to compete in Lexington, Kentucky, a week later.
The episode shows how complicated tournament planning is in times of Corona. The uncertainties are huge, because the American Tennis Association (USTA) does not want to give definitive confirmation for the events in North America until the end of this week. After Lexington, the Premier5 tournament in Cincinnati, which has been relocated to New York, is on the agenda, followed by the US Open at the same location. In view of the undiminished rise in Covid-19 numbers in the USA, no player is looking forward to the journey across the pond.
"No normal person travels to America now," said Belinda Bencic dryly at the weekend. Too many questions are open to the number 8 in the world. One of the most important: what about the quarantine requirements? In New York, the players would move in a so-called bubble. Living in a hotel on Long Island, a maximum of three companions and a range of motion that is limited to the hotel, the tennis facility in Flushing Meadows and the journeys in between.
Entry to the USA should therefore be guaranteed after a negative corona test. But what about the return trip to Europe? After all, the top-class clay court tournaments in Madrid, Rome and finally the French Open in Paris are right after the US Open.
Quarantine rules change almost daily
Simona Halep and the organizers in Palermo had to find out how quickly the situation can change. The Romanian Roland Garros Champion from 2017 and Wimbledon winner last year was intended as a figurehead - until Italy put Romania on the list of countries from which travelers have to be quarantined. There is a threat of a US Open with only a few European participants and, conversely, a French Open in which hardly any American women take part. Can fair competitions be guaranteed if not all players are allowed to enter the country at all?
Bencic laughs at the question. “That is definitely not fair,” says the 23-year-old from Eastern Switzerland. "But otherwise we wouldn't be able to play this year." She has not yet made up her mind whether she will go to New York. She is waiting for more information. "Right now I have a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D," she says with a touch of fatalism.
Bencic has not lost her smile yet.Picture: keystone
The tendency speaks against the US Open. Bencic is currently playing Interclub in Switzerland and is planning to take part in the WTA tournament in Prague from August 10th - both on clay. The program of Swiss number 3, Stefanie Vögele (WTA 109), looks the same, while Teichmann (WTA 63), who won last year not only Palermo, but also the tournament that was held in Prague in May, and Viktorija Golubic (WTA 123) set the events in North America.
Finally earn money again
Thanks to the successes in recent years and lucrative sponsorship contracts, Bencic was able to create a financial cushion, but for the players of the second guard it is not least about being able to finally earn money again. A good 50,000 Swiss francs in prize money even for a lost 1st round at the US Open is a good argument to inconvenience certain inconveniences. Especially since the entire lucrative Asian tour was canceled in autumn.
Bencic and Teichmann played at the Securitas Pro Cup in Biel last weekend. Image: keystone
For the time being, the tennis world is far from returning to normal. But Jil Teichmann is calm. "That is our job, and as tennis players we are used to having to adapt to new circumstances." (pre / sda)
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