There will be no audience and no handshakes with rivals, but Czech players including two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová relishes the prospect of playing a tournament again.
Today at the Sparta Prague tennis club starts a charity tournament to raise funds to help those affected by the coronavirus crisis.
World number 12 Kvitová will headline an all-Czech tournament in Prague starting Tuesday without spectators, handshakes, or the usual towel service.
“We are here to reintroduce tennis not only to the Czech Republic but also to the world,” Kvitova said.
“The hardest thing will be to find the rhythm, we haven’t played a match for a very long time,” said Kvitova, who faces doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova in her opening contest on Tuesday.
“I hope nobody expects us to play fantastic tennis because it may happen or it may not,” she added, wearing a face mask which, she said, had a good thing about it.
The men’s part will be played on clay.
“It won’t be the same thing as a regular tournament,” said Jiri Vesely, the 65th-ranked top seed, who won this year’s ATP tournament in Pune, India.
“There are no points to play for, no plot, there will be no fans. But of course, we are looking forward to the games and we’ll try to play our best tennis,” added Vesely, who spent the forced break with his 15-month-old daughter.
As of Monday, the Czech government has allowed events with up to 300 people, including sports, as the illness’ spread started to slow down with over 300 deaths per 9,000 confirmed cases in the country.