(Reuters) - Dayana Yastremska says making the mental adjustment to being back on court was crucial after the Ukrainian played in her first competitive match since the COVID-19 shutdown at the WTA Tour’s Palermo Ladies Open on Monday.
Nearly five months after the sport was suspended due to the pandemic, the claycourt tournament in the Sicilian capital hosted the first main draw match at Tour level on Monday.
The 20-year-old Yastremska, who released a second pop track during the shutdown, defeated Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 6-4 to reach the second round.
She said it was “tough to describe” her feelings on court.
“Firstly I am very happy, it’s been a long time,” the world No. 25 said on a virtual conference call.
“At the same time it was very difficult to play because you haven’t been in this atmosphere for a long time and you kind of forgot this feeling of competition a little bit.
“Today the most important thing was the mental part. Physically it was also a bit tough because we are not used to playing a match (in a long time).”
Organisers have allowed a handful of spectators to watch the action on the main court with social distancing guidelines and temperature checks in place.
Players have to wear masks when not on court and are not allowed to shake hands at the net or with the umpire.
“The best time during this tournament is when you are on court and in your room,” said Yastremska, who reached a career high ranking of 21st earlier this year. “Because you can be without the mask and you can breathe normally.
“But it’s really nice and very cool that the tournament is going on and we are competing because I really missed that. All players respect the rules and it’s good that everything is working well.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.