NEW YORK – After a five-month hiatus, professional tennis is back at the highest level with unprecedented measures to keep players and their teams safe.
Naomi Osaka (JPN) made a statement in her return to tennis on and off the court. Osaka reached the finals of the Western & Southern Open – a WTA Premier event – in her first tournament back since the Australian Open.
Osaka said she found her voice during the pandemic and has been outspoken about racial injustice in the United States.
Angelique Kerber (GER) made a last-minute decision to fly across the pond and join the New York bubble. The 2016 champion will play her first match back in six months on Monday.
On the Rise: 21-and-under
Exploring new interests outside of tennis during the pandemic, Denis Shapovalov (CAN) and Dayana Yastremska (UKR) both released new music – Night Train and Favorite Track, respectively.
Shapovalov entered the top-20 last November and began his 2020 season with two top-10 wins, while Yastremska brings immense firepower to the court each match and will be seeded 19th – her highest seed at a major – entering this year’s US Open.
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) was one of the hottest players on tour, reaching the finals of four events and entering the top-20 for the first time in her career. She leads the WTA in aces – 144 – and scored the most victories in 2020 – with 21 – before the tour’s suspension.
Americans Frances Tiafoe, Steve Johnson, and Jessica Pegula have remained on home soil since the global pandemic forced tennis to be shutdown prior to the BNP Paribas Open in March.
Pegula resumed play red hot, as she reached the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open in preparation for the US Open.
The trio call the US Open their favorite tournament to play and are embracing the return.
Preparing for Paris
Several players, including Stan Wawrinka (SUI) and Belinda Bencic (SUI), opted to stay in Europe and focus on the clay season that will resume after the US Open.