Of all the tournaments I attend throughout the year, Wuhan is probably one of the most unique.
From the tournament’s catchy anthem, to the dancing robots and dragons that celebrated its fifth anniversary, to the beautiful venue that keeps developing at an unbelievable pace.
I hadn’t visited this tournament since 2016 and within those two years, the city built a tram that goes all the way up to the Optics Valley International Tennis Centre — which was initially in a relatively remote location but is now accessible via public transport — and a massive outlet mall was opened right in front of the venue. A few players have already been spotted at the shops during their down time.
Wuhan’s slogan is “Different everyday!” and the tournament clearly takes that principle very seriously.
We’ve been having fun with the players these past few days at this Premier 5-level event.
Before her third round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Petra Kvitova brought her A-game to the press conference room, joking with a veteran tour reporter that she was “new” for forgetting to use the microphone then doing it again when the moderator’s walkie went off loudly during proceedings. “He’s new too,” Kvitova said before finishing off her answer to a journalist’s question. The Czech is certainly keeping us all on our toes!
Meanwhile, Daria Kasatkina, only 21 years of age, admits it was “weird” being the more experienced player on the court when she took on 17-year-old Wang Xiyu in the second round and had to save four match points en route to victory. After jokingly mouthing an expletive, Kasatkina said: “I didn’t expect that, so soon. It’s very weird.” They grow up so fast, don’t they?
The affable Russian later said why she’s specifically motivated for her third round against Dominika Cibulkova on Wednesday.
“I’m happy that I’m playing Centre Court again because here the Centre Court is so beautiful and my team are so happy because the chairs are so comfortable, they can really enjoy it. Philippe [Dehaes, my coach] said he almost fell asleep two days ago during the first match. I hope it will not happen again,” she said with a chuckle.
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