By Jake Davies
- The Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament starts its main draw on Monday
- The draw offers a lot of room for opportunity for many to make a big impact on a WTA main draw.
LINZ, AUSTRIA – Britwatch is in Linz this week as we look at some of the players to watch at the tournament.
Linz may spring up some surprises after late withdrawals
Last year, the WTA international event of Linz boasted many star names that were chasing vital ranking points in order to qualify for the remaining places in the WTA Finals in Singapore. This year’s tournament has a very different feel. The defending champion Dominika Cibulkova pulled out with a wrist injury that has bothered her for quite some time, while Roland-Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko also withdrew merely days before the tournament began.
The big name absentees may not have a lasting impact on the field. When you look at the players that are playing the event, it is clear to see that many interesting developments could happen throughout the action-packed week.
Comeback stories to be written in Linz
One of the biggest comeback stories is former US Open quarter-finalist Belinda Bencic. The Swiss megastar was a tennis prodigy and was one of the leading WTA players in adapting from juniors tennis to the WTA tour. It is easy to forget that Bencic made her WTA main draw debut at 15-years-old, five years ago.
Bencic has been gaining some momentum at ITF level after a five month absence because of a wrist problem. This Linz wildcard could give her the opportunity to rise back up the rankings to the lofty heights she achieved back in 2015, where she won her biggest title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Bencic spoke about her delight at being granted the wildcard:
” I’m really looking forward to stepping on court here in Linz, I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to be back playing again and I will enjoy this moment back on court at this great tournament.”
Olympic champion Monica Puig looks to regain some form
Monica Puig is one of the biggest draws in this week’s tournament in Linz. She started the year just outside the World’s Top 30, but has struggled to power her way through matches in the same manner that drove her to an unexpected gold medal triumph at the Rio Olympics last year.
This tournament could provide the perfect stepping stone that catapults Puig back towards the Top 50 and beyond. She faces another player climbing her way back to the tour in Ajla Tomljanovic. The Olympic champion talked about her first round matchup against good friend Ajla:
” There’s never easy matches at this level and it will be a battle against Ajla. We actually practiced together today (Sunday) and we know each other really well! We hope to put on a great match for the amazing fans here in Linz.”
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