The world’s two top-ranked players are leading the fields in Warsaw and Prague next week, with World No 1 Iga Swiatek returning to Hologic WTA Tour action in her nation’s capital at the BNP Paribas Poland Open, and World No 2 Anett Kontaveit together with defending champion Barbora Krejcikova heading draw at the Livesport Prague Open 2022.
While the WTA 250 event in Warsaw will be played on outdoor clay, the Prague WTA 250 switches to hard courts ahead of the northern American swing that begins on 1 August with the WTA 500 at San Jose in California and WTA 250 in Washington, DC.
Swiatek compiled a 37-match winning streak on tour earlier this year, equaling the longest undefeated run since 1990 and capturing her second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in the process, but her run came to an end with a 3rd-round loss to Alizé Cornet at Wimbledon 3 weeks ago.
Playing her first event since then, Swiatek will be part of an all-Polish clash in the first round as she takes on Magdalena Frech, the World No 84 and 3rd-ranked Polish player, who meet for the first time on tour.
Frech narrowly lost to Angelique Kerber in the first round of Roland Garros, before making her first trip to the 3rd round of a Grand Slam event at Wimbledon.
At the bottom of the draw, defending champion Maryna Zanevska from Belgium will play No 9 seed Varvara Gracheva, who took a seeded slot after No 2 seed Yulia Putintseva from Kazakstan withdrew because of a left wrist injury.
Zanevska won the event when it took place in Gdynia last year for her first tour-level title.
In other first-round matches in Warsaw, No 3 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain will play Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, and 8th-seeded Petra Martic from Croatia, who won the Lausanne title last week, goes up against Polish wild-card Weronika Falkowska.
Prior to main-draw action in Warsaw, Swiatek played a charity benefit in Krakow on Saturday, to raise funds for Ukrainian youth, with matches featuring Swiatek and Polish legend and former World No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska and Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina also making a special appearance as a chair umpire.
In Prague, 32-year old Petra Kvitova, who won the tournament in 2018, was forced to pull out of this year’s edition due to inflammation of the wrist.
Her compatriot Barbora Krejcikova, who is the No 2 seed behind Kontaveit, starts her journey to defend the title she won here last year with an opening match against Anna Blinkova from Russia against whom she leads in their head-to-head, 2-0.
Kontaveit is coming off a finalist showing at this week’s Hamburg European Open, which was her first final since February, and the Estonian faces World No 115 Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia in the first round, in their first meeting.
Home interest is bolstered by 5 more Czechs in the main draw, including last year’s finalist Tereza Martincova and recent Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marie Bouzkova, while even more could enter the main draw after qualifying ends.
Also of note, No 3 seed Elise Mertens has a tricky opening-round clash against Poland’s Magda Linette, who has toppled 3 Top 10 players at Grand Slams over the last 2 years.