Top tennis returns with no handshakes, showers


PALERMO, Sicily — Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents.

The strict rules because of the coronavirus pandemic included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe.

A limited number of fans were allowed into the 1,500-seat stadium court and had to follow social distancing measures.

They watched sixth-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia beat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2 in windy conditions in the first official event — for men or women — since early March.

Vekic sealed a place in the second round on her second match point, breaking for the sixth time in the match when Rus hit a forehand wide.

Vekic will next face either Polona Hercog or Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

Players and anyone who comes into contact with players were tested for COVID-19 before they departed for Palermo, upon arrival, and then again every four days.

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