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West Palm Beach | Return to pro tennis continues

The return of professional tennis gathered steam with the UTR Men’s Pro Match Series event in the United States at the weekend at which American Reilly Opelka won the four-man tournament, staged on a private court in West Palm Beach, Florida, with a 4-3 2-4 4-2 victory over Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.

Given the circumstances, when you don't play matches for a while, it's a completely different animal. It's hard to train for. It was a long day; I've only been practicing an hour, hour-and-a-half max, and today was really hot. The heat definitely got to me... I'm definitely a little sore—which is a good feeling. I haven't felt like really tired in a while. It was actually nice. I'm not going to complain about being tired for the first time. Reilly Opelka

Opelka and Kecmanovic progressed to the final by finishing above Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz and American Tommy Paul in the round-robin stage.

UTR Powered by Oracle is a global rating system that promotes fair and competitive play across the tennis world. All players, regardless of age, gender, geography or skill level, are rated on a same scale between 1.00 and 16.50 based on actual match results.

The three-day event featured several measures to ensure safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Players replaced handshakes with racket taps and called their own lines, with a chair umpire the only official present.

There was no public access to the court and no spectators were present, with the action televised live on Tennis Channel and streamed on tennis.com.

The results from the event count towards the players’ UTRs and earned them prize money.

“Given the circumstances, when you don’t play matches for a while, it’s a completely different animal. It’s hard to train for,” Opelka told Tennis Channel after the final.

“It was a long day; I’ve only been practicing [each day] an hour, hour-and-a-half max, and today was really hot. The heat definitely got to me.

“I think my Quarantine 15 I put on was holding me down a little bit today.

“I’m definitely a little sore—which is a good feeling. I haven’t felt like really tired in a while. It was actually nice. I’m not going to complain about being tired for the first time.”

A women’s event, featuring Americans Alison Riske, Amanda Anisimova and Danielle Collins plus Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, will be held on the same court on 22-24 May.

The UTR Men’s Pro Match Series tournament was the second professional tennis event held this month.

World No 143 Yannick Hanfmann a week earlier won the eight-player Tennis Point Exhibition Series, played on an indoor clay court at the Base Tennis Club in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany.

The UTR event in Florida, however, marked the first time top-100 players had competed since tennis’s coronavirus suspension in March, with all four competitors ranked inside the top 60.

More events are set to roll out around the world in the coming weeks, including the Ultimate Tennis Showdown at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France, the Generali Open Pro Series in Austria headlined by Dominic Thiem, and the Eastern European Championship at the Tipsarevic Tennis Academy in Belgrade.


UTR cleaning staff sanitize the court between matches due to new COVID-19 safety guidelines during the UTR Pro Match Series in West Palm Beach, Florida

© Michael Reaves/Getty Images




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