Estonian-Latvian tournament played on hard court, Kanepi to participate ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The organizers of Merko Cup, an Estonian-Latvian exhibition match, have announced the tournament will be held on hard courts at Tondi Tennis Center in Tallinn which allows for 200 spectators.

Riho Kallus, the tournament's director, said all players who participated in the competition's introductory press conference will participate in the event, notably veteran Estonian player Kaia Kanepi, who had previously expressed concern over the tournament's court selection, wanting to play on a hard court ahead of the U.S. Open.

Kanepi wrote on her social media on July 15: "In truth, it is not yet known which tournaments on the WTA Tour or Grand Slams will take place this year and it is hard for me to confirm my participation. When I was notified of the Merko Cup, I was certain it would take place on hard courts and that fitted well with my plans for the U.S. Open. If the U.S. Open were to take place this year and the Estonian tournament were to be held on clay, I would certainly not participate. I've been playing on hard courts for the last 12 months and, considering the condition of my legs, I can't switch courts too often, because that could end my career."

The organizers of the tournament, which starts on Wedesday, remained flexible regarding court selection and have now confirmed the matches will be played on hard courts.

Kallus said: "I am very glad that spectators will be see all of our stars in the next two days. The Estonian-Latvian exhibition tournament will be full and tense for everyone - the players and tennis fans alike."

He added that the spectator capacity of the event will be limited, due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, with only 200 people allowed into the event.

The Merko Cup, held in Tallinn at Tondi Tennis Centre on July 29-30, will see the best tennis players from Estonia and Latvia face off in both singles and doubles formats, both WTA (women's) and ATP (men's).

Estonia will be represented by Anett Kontaveit (WTA 22nd), Kaia Kanepi (WTA 99th), Jürgen Zopp (ATP 552nd) and Vladimir Ivanov (ATP 738th). Jelena Ostapenko (WTA 41st), Anastasija Sevastova (WTA 43rd), Ernests Gulbis (ATP 162nd) and Karlis Ozolins (ATP 1,133rd) will represent Latvia at the Merko Cup.

Estonia's highest ranked tennis player, Anett Kontaveit, said it was an honor to be able to compete in her home country.

The 24-year-old said: "I think it's a privilege to be able to play at home and in front of our home audience and after such a long break. I think this is mega."

The schedule for Merko Cup is as follows:

Wednesday, July 29:
11 a.m. Vladimir Ivanov - Karlis Ozolins
followed by Anett Kontaveit - Anastasija Sevastova
followed by men's doubles
BREAK
6 p.m. Opening ceremony
followed by Kaia Kanepi - Jelena Ostapenko
followed by Jürgen Zopp - Ernests Gulbis

Thursday, July 30
11 a.m. Kaia Kanepi - Anastasija Sevastova
followed by Jürgen Zopp - Karlis Ozolins
followed by women's doubles
BREAK
6 p.m. Ernests Gulbis - Vladimir Ivanov
followed by Anett Kontaveit - Jelena Ostapenko
followed by mixed doubles
Award ceremony

On Tuesday, Kontaveit and Kanepi were training together at the Tondi tennis center, see the gallery below.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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