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Petra Kvitova ready for return headlining all-Czech tournament

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VIDEO SHOWS: CZECH TENNIS PLAYERS PETRA KVITOVA AND BARBORA STRYCOVA HOLDING A NEWS CONFERENCE

SHOWS: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 25, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. PETRA KVITOVA AND BARBORA STRYCOVA ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE AND TAKING A SEAT

2. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

3. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) PETRA KVITOVA, SAYING:

"There are not many changes on the WTA circuit, but let's hope there will be soon. We are of course glad that the Sparta club - Mr Director and Mr President - were able to organise this opening tournament in Prague, where almost all the top Czech players will take part. We are happy to start the season here, which is of course going to continue. Personally, I am glad to be a part of it and we hope it will be super for us and for the fans watching on TV."

4. MEDIA AT NEWS CONFERENCE

5. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) BARBORA STRYCOVA, SAYING:

"About the draw? Well Linda (Fruhvirtova) is 20 years younger than me, what can I say, it will be a match that i look forward to. It will finally be a change that it's not only about practising, it will be a celebration of tennis. I am very happy that it takes place at the Sparta club, where I have basically played all my life, and that we can slowly get back to normal. Anyway tomorrow (May 26) the world will see that we can organise such a tournament here, which is amazing, and I am very happy to be a part of it."

REPORTER, ASKING: "Is it a big change for you now when the tournament is getting closer?"

"I don't know, the information we have from WTA is not positive, of course everyone is trying hard but it's not easy to organise a tournament anywhere. Luckily there are many top players here so we can have this tournament and that's a great advantage."

6. VARIOUS OF NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS, KVITOVA AND STRYCOVA LEAVING AT END OF NEWS CONFERENCE

STORY: Two-times Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is happy to finally play tennis again for fans - even if they can only watch from television.

The world number 12 will headline an all-Czech tournament in Prague starting Tuesday (May 26) without spectators, handshakes or the usual towel service.

The return to action is one of the first after pro tennis tours were suspended in early March as countries went into lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Some exhibition events without fans have been held in countries like Germany and the United States while more are planned elsewhere in the coming weeks.

Kvitova last played at the Qatar Open in February where she lost in the final to Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka. She said finding rhythm and playing without support would be the hardest part returning.

The Czech Republic has gradually reversed lockdown measures. It has reported less than 100 new cases of the virus a day for much of May while two thirds of the nearly 9,000 people infected have recovered.

The tournament, with eight players in both the men's and women's draw, will resemble regular tennis as much as possible.

Ball boys and ball girls remain, and players' benches are in their usual spots. But players won't shake hands at the net and tap rackets instead and will take care of their own towels.

Barbora Strycova, Barbora Krejcikova, Katerina Siniakova and Lucie Hradecka - who have all been part of Fed Cup teams that have won six championships in the past decade - will compete.

World number three Karolina Pliskova will not play after returning from injury and last year's French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova will also be absent.

On the men's side, 65th ranked Jiri Vesely will be favourite.

(Production: David Cerny)

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