Wawrinka chooses to restart season at Prague Challenger

Former world no 3 Stan Wawrinka will mark his return to the tour by competing at a Challenger event for the first time in 10 years

Stan Wawrinka during a tour of Prague / Photo courtesy: Czech Tennis Federation

After opting to skip the US Open, world no 17 Stan Wawrinka will make his return to the tour by headlining the Prague Challenger.

The men’s tour will resume for the first time since play was suspended in March due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Though the ATP Tour will return with the Western and Southern Open (Cincinnati) Masters event that will be held in New York City this year, the Challenger tour begins on August 17 with events in Prague and Todi, Italy.

The Czech capital, which will hold back-to-back Challenger events, has a strong field that, along with Wawrinka, includes top 100 players Jiri Vesely (65), Pierre-Hugues Herbert (71) and Philipp Kohlschreiber. The field also includes former world no 10 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

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For Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion, playing in Prague would mark his first Challenger event since he won the Lugano Challenger in 2010.

Though with his ranking the former world no 3 could have easily made the cut for the Masters and US Open, safety concerns around the spike in Covid-19 cases in the United States prompted him to stay in Europe instead.

“These were many difficult months for everybody,” he was quoted by Czech media.

“I’m looking forward to be back playing some matches here. It’s important to restart the season again with these two tournaments in Prague.

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“For me, it was nice to spend time at home with my daughter when we were in quarantine. That was the positive for me. But I’m happy to be playing again now.”

The top seed will play his first match against the winner of Czech player Lukas Rosol and Russia’s Roman Safiullin.

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Player tests positive

A local player tested positive for Coronavirus after the mandatory tests were done on all the players involved.

Accordingly, the player, who did not have a direct entry into either the main draw of qualifying round, has been placed in home quarantine.

“Following the completion of pre-tournament testing at the ATP Challenger event in Prague, one player has tested positive for COVID-19,” the ATP announced in a statement on Twitter.

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“In accordance with ATP and Czech Republic National Health Care Agency protocols, the player has entered mandatory quarantine. Quarantine will be carried out at the player’s home, given the player is locally based. In addition, a contact tracing process has been initiated to identify and notify any individuals who may have come across with the player.”