WTA frustrates with tight scheduling: Players compete sleep-deprived, stressed, and rushed

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Professional tennis players are expected to perform at top level at all times, but there are a lot of external factors that hamper their ability to show their best, a major one being tight scheduling. As many as three players who reached the semifinals of Abu Dhabi last week have lost in the first round of this week’s Qatar TotalEnergies Open, in straight sets. Moreover, Cluj-Napoca champion Karolina Pliskova slept for just four hours ahead of her Doha opener.

Daria Kasatkina
Despite being tired, Daria Kasatina put a smile on her face for photographer Jimmie48 in Doha.

Less than 24 hours after losing the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open final to Elena Rybakina 6-1 6-4, Daria Kasatkina played her first-round match at the Qatar Open and lost it in straight sets to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2 7-6(2).

After reaching Sunday’s Abu Dhabi final, Kasatkina criticized the WTA scheduling that made her play her first-round match in Doha on Monday:

I have a question, I don’t know to who, to WTA or the tournaments, like, are you guys trying to make players die, or to get injured often? I might have to fly Monday and step on the court the same day, after playing five matches here at the highest level. So I’m sorry but that’s something we have to talk about and consider.

Similarly, Beatriz Haddad Maia, who had previously lost to Kasatkina in the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open semifinals 6-3 4-6 7-6(2), also made a first-round exit in Doha, falling to Wang Xinyu 6-1 6-3.

Liudmila Samsonova, another player that reached the Abu Dhabi semifinals, where she lost to eventual champion Elena Rybakina 6-0 4-6 6-2, was scheduled to play her Doha opener on Monday and lost to Leylah Fernandez 7-5 7-6(4).

Karolina Pliskova at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open
Karolina Pliskova at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open

It was not only about players competing at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. Karolina Pliskova won her 17th career title at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca on Sunday, while her Doha opener was already on Monday. Despite rushing from Romania to Qatar, the former world No.1 made it through to the second round, defeating Anna Kalinskaya after losing the first set, 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4.

Pliskova’s husband Michal Hrdlicka gave us an insight into her challenging intercontinental travel:

She caught the flight from Cluj via Istanbul to Doha at the last minute. If the final in Romania had been played just a little longer, she would not have reached Qatar at all.

He proceeded to explain that Karolina arrived at the hotel at 8 in the morning, slept for just four hours, had a warm-up and then played her match.

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