STARNBERG, November 6, 2020
World No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka will headline this year’s 30th anniversary edition of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, one of the longest-running women’s tournaments, to be held from November 7-15 at the Linz Tips-Arena.
The 22-year-old from Belarus, who will come to the WTA International Event for the first time, started her season with a heavy heart. Sabalenka’s father Sergey passed away suddenly in November last year at the age of 43.
“I’m just trying to fight because my dad wanted me to be No.1,” Sabalenka said during the Adelaide International tournament in January.
Sabalenka made it into the semi-finals of the Australian tournament and captured two of her eight WTA career titles during this season. She lifted the trophies of the Qatar Total Open Premier 5 Event in February as well as of the Ostrava Open last month.
“It was a long journey here and I put everything on tennis,” Sabalenka said after winning in Doha, describing Sergey’s impact on her. “I was actually only playing tennis and focusing on tennis and nothing else. And I think I gave everything for tennis. And I just lost my dad in the pre-season and he was my biggest motivation, and I’m doing it for him.”
French Open sensation Podoroska to play in Linz
Sabalenka will be joined in Linz by five more Top 50 players: World No. 21 Elise Mertens from Belgium, World No. 29 Dayana Yastremska from the Ukraine, World No. 33 Ekaterina Alexandrova and World No. 46 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, as well as World No. 48 Nadia Podoroska from Argentina, who became the first qualifier in the Open Era at Roland Garros to reach the semi-finals after shocking third seed Elina Svitolana.
Podoroska was born in Rosario, the birthplace of revolutionary Che Guevara and football greats Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. It is the country’s third-largest city. The 23-year-old was playing in Paris her only second Grand Slam main draw, having qualified for the US Open in 2016. A right wrist injury sidelined her for eight months from July 2017. Now, she is sitting on a career-high ranking and has captured three ITF World Tennis Tour titles this season.
With Italy’s Camila Giorgi a former champion of the Upper Austria Linz will return to Austria’s third-largest city. Giorgi took the title here back in 2018.
Haas receives wild card
Home favourite Barbara Haas has been awarded a wild card into the main draw. Fellow Austrian Mira Antonitsch will be a wild card entry for the qualifying.
“It’s great that the only WTA tournament taking place next week will be played here in Linz. I am very grateful that I have the chance again to be in the main draw thanks to a wild card,” World No. 146 Haas said and is looking forward to the start of the event.
2020 edition without spectators
The Upper Austria Ladies Linz, which was originally scheduled for October, has been a WTA International event since 1991. Past winners have included Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber. Last year’s champion, Coco Gauff, became the youngest WTA tournament winner in over 15 years.
She is not only a two-time Wimby champion and an eight-time winner of the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, she is also our 2011 #WTALinz champ! 🙏
— WTA Linz (@WTALinz) November 3, 2020
This year’s event will feature a 32-player singles draw and 16-team doubles draw. Tournament director Sandra Reichel originally planned to welcome 1,000 spectators per day, however, due to rising coronavirus cases in the country, the Austrian government has decided to implement a second lockdown and the tournament will be held behind closed doors.