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(LEAD) S. Korea to host tennis stars in back-to-back tournaments in fall

14:15 July 22, 2022

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS details throughout, photos)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will host a tournament on the top men's tour for the first time in more than a quarter century this fall, immediately following a women's competition on the same court featuring a pair of recent Grand Slam champions.

The ATP Tour announced Friday that Seoul will host the Korea Open from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 at Olympic Park Tennis Center. It will be the tour's first event in South Korea since 1996.

This image captured from the ATP Tour's website on July 22, 2022, shows the schedule for the newly created Korea Open tennis tournament. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The event's organizers said Alexander Zverev, world No. 2 from Germany and reigning Olympic gold medalist in the men's singles, will compete in the US$1.28 million tournament. Casper Ruud of Norway, world No. 5, will also be on the court.

The South Korean capital hosted an ATP-level event from 1987 to 1996. The city has since staged only tournaments on the second-tier ATP Challenger Tour.

The ATP said the Korea Open is one of six single-year events for this season, along with tournaments in the United States, Israel, Italy and Spain, among other places. The tour canceled four tournaments scheduled in China due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In this UPI file photo from June 3, 2022, Alexander Zverev of Germany returns the ball to Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's singles semifinal match at the French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris. (Yonhap)

The six new events are all ATP 250 tournaments, in the lowest tier in ATP below the four Grand Slam tournaments, ATP Finals, ATP Masters 1000 and ATP 500 events.

Kwon Soon-woo is the highest-ranked South Korean ATP player at No. 77.

A week before the men's event, Olympic Park Tennis Center will host a tournament from the top women's tour, the Hana Bank Korea Open. The WTA 250 event will run from Sept. 19 to 25.

In this AFP file photo from June 29, 2022, Emma Raducanu of Britain returns the ball to Caroline Garcia of France during their women's singles second round match at Wimbledon at All England Club in London. (Yonhap)

The WTA's Korea Open will welcome the 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu and the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Ostapenko, the 17th-ranked Latvian, won the Korea Open only three months after her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris. She was a massive crowd favorite in Seoul, and her final against Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil drew a sellout crowd of some 9,000 fans -- the first sellout since the inaugural tournament in 2004, when Maria Sharapova, fresh off her Wimbledon victory, captured the title.

In this EPA file photo from July 3, 2022, Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia hits a shot against Tatjana Maria of Germany during their women's singles round of 16 match at Wimbledon at All England Club in London. (Yonhap)

Raducanu, the Toronto-born British teenager, stunned the tennis world by taking the U.S. Open title last year as a qualifier. Radacanu, who did not drop a set en route to that breakthrough win, jumped 332 places in the world rankings to No. 23. She is currently ranked 10th

In this AFP file photo from June 27, 2022, Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea hits a shot against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their men's singles first round match at Wimbledon at All England Club in London. (Yonhap)



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