Tennis.Life has gotten a sneak peek at the 2019 WTA Tour calendar.
There is one big change.
The second-tier Zhuhai tour final will take place before the WTA Tour Finals in Shenzhen, China and not after.
It makes sense to officially close the season with the Tour’s crown jewel, its showcase event.
(Note: the version we looked at is a draft. There might be minor tweaks before the official version is released. For one thing, the document indicates that the Australian Open qualifying is a 96-draw. The tournament announced a few weeks ago that it will be a 128-player draw in 2019, matching the men’s draw).
The early-season tournament in Taipei City will be relocated to Hua Hin, Thailand. Hua Hin has been the site of a pre-season exhibition event for the last few years.
Hua Hin has been the site of a November WTA 125K tournament the last three years. This year, though, that event has moved to Taipei.
The one tournament added to the schedule is a clay-court International in Palermo, Italy during the week of July 23.
The event in Nanchang, China on hard courts, which had been in that slot for at least the last two years, moves to the first week after the US Open.
That means that once again, there will be three International-level events that week. Quebec City, Hiroshima and Nanchang will all be battling for quality players. Very few top-ranked players choose to play that week. So to split that pool into three events rather than two isn’t much good for any of the events.
The Palermo tournament was a fixture on the WTA schedule from 1998 to 2013, when Italians Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani played in the “final” final. The license was sold to Kuala Lumpur in 2014.
Annual Doha and Dubai flip
Doha and Dubai, held in February, switch designations every year.
In 2019, Dubai will be the Premier 5 event with the 56-player draw.
Beyond that, the only minor changes are adjustments to the size of the qualifying draws.
The Bogóta and Quebec City tournaments go from 24 players to 16. The Tokyo Premier event rises from 24 to 32. And the tournaments in Linz and Hiroshima go from 32 players to 24.
One more WTA 125K event
In 2019, there will be a new tournament at the $125,000 level, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
It is scheduled for the second week of Indian Wells and gives players an opportunity to complete, much like the ATP Tour Challenger in Irving, Texas does for the men.
As well, the inaugural Oracle Challenger Series tournament in Newport Beach, Calif. during the second week of the Australian Open will move to Phoenix, Arizona according to the tentative schedule.