While the US Open is fast approaching its business end, preparations for the clay swing have begun in full earnest with two tournaments starting off with their first round matches. The ATP Kitzbuhel Open for men and the WTA Istanbul Cup for women will provide the players suitable practice heading into the next three weeks.
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Some of the players, especially those who did not participate in the New York swing, which consisted of the Western & Southern Open and the US Open, will look to take to the clay courts of Kitzbuhel and Istanbul as they look to get into their grooves for some of the sterner tests ahead.
These include the Italian Open, which is a Masters tournament in the men’s section of the draw and a Premier competition for women, and the year’s third Grand Slam, the French Open. These two important competitions will be held in the three weeks starting next week.
In action at Kitzbuhel according to the revised draw, will be Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman, the top two seeds who have also got themselves a first round bye. Dusan Lajovic and Nikoloz Basilashvili are the other players who will directly feature in round two.
A lot of eyes will also be on Kei Nishikori who will be returning from multiple issues this season. It started with recuperation from an elbow injury and later he tested positive for the coronavirus which meant he will be playing for the first time in 2020.
Hubert Hurkacz, Guido Pella and Albert Ramos Vinolas complete the Kitzbuhel Open draw.
Over in Istanbul, former world number two and French Open winner Svetland Kuznetsova gets the pride of place, the top seed. A two-time finalist at the Italian Open she will look to get going at the Istanbul Cup to play herself in after having been out of action since the end of February.
Kuznetsova last played at the Qatar Open before opting out of any exhibition tournaments or the US Open. The world number 34 has Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson for company as the second seed, and they will be joined by Polona Hercog, Caroline Garcia, Heather Watson, Alison van Uytvanck, Zarina Diyas and Misaki Doi.
Featuring in the qualifiers will be Eugenie Bouchard who will also want to make the main draw and improve her 272nd rank in the world. What’s interesting to note is Bouchard played in a couple of clay court tournaments at the start of the season resumption but opted out of the Cincinnati and US Open.