Announcer for the 2021 Qatar Total Open, Andy Taylor recaps Petra Kvitova’s Round-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. One of this year’s top-4 seeds, Petra had Monday and Tuesday off with a 1st-Round Bye. Since capturing the Doha title in 2018, she has been an absolute force on this court. With today’s victory, she is now 11-1 in Doha since lifting the Falcon. Absent in 2019 – Last year, she returned to reach the Final again, where she fell to Aryna Sabalenka.
13th meeting. Petra Kvitova now owns a 9-4 advantage.
These two talents have met 13-times over the past 15-years. From Wuhan to Rome, to Miami and the Billie Jean King Cup Final. Petra Kvitova has now won nine of those matches.
 Petra Kvitova -10- (CZE) | Round-2 Announcer Introduction
She is a 2-time Wimbledon Champion, a 3-time Grand Slam Finalist, an Olympic Bronze Medalist – and has lifted her country to the Billie Jean King Cup title 6-times in the past 10-years. Three years ago on this court, she lifted Doha’s famous Falcon for the first time – defeating World #1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Semi’s, then Garbine Muguruza in the Final. Last year, she defeated World #1 Ashleigh Barty in the Semi’s – and returned to the championship match behind 10 consecutive Doha victories. In all, she owns 27 career Singles titles, has been ranked as high as World #2, and back in October – reached her 7th Grand Slam Semifinal at Roland Garros. From the Czech Republic – please welcome 2018 Doha Champion and 2020 Finalist, Petra Kvitova.
- R2 — W — Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova -41- (RUS) | Score: 6-1, 6-3
- R1 — BYE
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova -41- (RUS) | Round-2 Announcer Introduction
Yesterday, she defeated qualifier Kristyna Pliskova and advanced to Round-2 here in Doha for the third time. She owns 12 WTA Singles titles, has reached 20 career Finals, and is a 6-time Grand Slam Quarterfinalist. Ranked as high as World #12, she’s 3-time qualifier for the year-end WTA Elite Trophy, where she reached the Semifinals in 2013. Last year – before the pandemic slammed the breaks on the season – she was hot, earning two of 15 career top-5 victories with wins over Karolina Pliskova at the Australian Open and Belinda Bencic in Dubai. Back in Doha for her 5th Qatar Total Open – from Russia, please welcome Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
- R2 — L —  Petra Kvitova -10- (CZE) | Score: 1-6, 3-6
- R1 — W — [Q] Kristyna Pliskova -75- (CZE) | Score: 6-2, 6-3
2021 Qatar Total Open: Different Date. Unusual Circumstances.
In 2021, due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, the WTA Tour rescheduled the Qatar Total Open to take place the first week of March. A portion of the season typically carved-out for week-1 of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. When Indian Wells postponed its tournament due to COVID-19’s continued threat to the Coachella Valley, the Tour reinvented the 2021 calendar.
As a result, in January Abu Dhabi hosted the season’s first event. A WTA-500 tournament specifically created to get players back on court. Dubai then hosted Australian Open qualifying, while main-draw entrants traveled to Australia for two weeks of quarantine. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia moved the Australian Open to the second week of February to accommodate the country’s strict pandemic protocols. Immediately following quarantine, the WTA hosted several new tournaments in Melbourne Park. All designed as lead-up events to the season’s first Major. After Oz, Adelaide hosted its postponed tournament, while most traveled to the Arab Gulf to prepare for the Qatar Total Open and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Doha: Rebranded in 2021 from Premier to a WTA-500 Tournament
The WTA also rebranded the 2021 Qatar Total Open a WTA-500 event, after the Tour realigned its tournament tier structure during the off-season. Rather than International, Premier, Premier-5 and Premier Mandatory; starting in 2021, all WTA events became classified as WTA-250, WTA-500 and WTA-1000 tournaments (similar to the ATP Tour).
Moving forward, the Qatar Total Open and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will continue to alternate the WTA’s two Arab Gulf events. More specifically, on “even” years the Qatar Total Open will host the WTA-1000 event with a field of 64. Consequently, during “odd” years, it will feature a WTA-500 event with a field of 32.
Coronavirus: Delivering a top-shelf international event responsibly
While the Qatar Tennis Federation allowed fans to attend the 2021 Qatar Total Open; the QTF sold tickets at reduced capacity. All wore masks, encountered temperature checks upon arrival, and adhered to social-distancing guidelines – required to sit several seats apart.
Players, WTA staff and umpires lived in their own “bubble” at the Four Seasons. Meanwhile, tournament support, lines-people, ball persons and the announcer stayed in a separate “bubble” at Ezdan Palace. All underwent routine coronavirus testing and regular temperature checks. Everyone was required to wear masks at all times (except players and umpires during competition). The locker-room was off-limits for the athletes until their match was on-deck, and none were allowed to shower on site. Every aspect of post-match recovery took place at the player hotel.
Pandemic Event Hosting: Champions adjust
From behind-the-scenes pandemic protocols to extreme “socially-distanced” on-court interviews and trophy presentations – the Qatar Tennis Federation and WTA adhered to every science-guided precaution to ensure the safety of all involved. And by doing so, despite all of the obvious challenges, delivered another top-shelf experience for both players and fans on site and those watching around the world.
Hosting high-profile international events during a devastating pandemic is possible. That is, when organizers have the courage, compassion and ingenuity to reinvent the way things are done; when they have the flexibility and financial support to adjust expectation. And as we’ve all learned after one year of separation, isolation, anxiety and heart-break: the “escape” that televised sports provides is invaluable to mental health. A welcome distraction to a very un-welcome new reality.