February 1, 2019 / 4:01 PM / 3 months ago

WTA to start 2019 Asian swing with new Premier event in Zhengzhou

(Reuters) - Women’s tennis organizers announced changes to their calendar for 2019 on Friday, with a new Premier event in Zhengzhou, China marking the start of the Asian swing.

The WTA said the Zhengzhou tournament will take place after the U.S. Open in September and will offer $1 million in prize money, an amount that will rise to $1.5 million in 2020.

“We’re pleased to present a robust 2019 tour calendar,” WTA chief Steve Simon said in a statement.

“We look forward to bringing women’s tennis to Zhengzhou and the Henan Province and continue to grow the sport across China and the Asia Pacific region.”

Plans for the tournament, operated by APG, Central Plains Tennis Centre and the China Open, also include the construction of a new facility with an 8,000-seater stadium to be completed for the 2020 edition.

The women’s tour will have two more additions with the Ladies Championship Lausanne being staged in Switzerland after Wimbledon and the Baltic Open in Jurmala, Latvia in July.

The latter two events will replace the Ladies Championships in Gstaad and the Moscow River Cup.

The Connecticut Open in New Haven also drops out of the calendar after 21 years as its financial model was not viable anymore without a title sponsor.

The WTA is looking at opportunities for new events in the United States in place of the Connecticut Open in the week before the U.S. Open.

The 2019 calendar features 55 events across 29 countries with a prize money of over $164 million. 

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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