With all competitive tennis suspended until July 13th at the earliest, tentative attempts are being made by organisers around the world to resume live matches again.
On Thursday, an invitational event featuring 8 lower-ranked players began behind closed doors at a private facility near Dusseldorf, and Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, is planning a series of weekend exhibition matches to be staged at his tennis academy near Nice which will be live streamed.
And Rafael Nadal is also considering a similar initiative at his own tennis academy on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
Now the action is set to return to the United States as well, with web-based enterprise United Tennis Rating (UTR) creating two new events to be played this May, one for men and one for women.
Both events will be played in Florida on a private court in West Palm Beach, with strict safety precautions in place. Again no spectators will be allowed, there will be a bare minimum of match officials and staff manning the event, and protocols such as a ban on players shaking hands or sharing changing facilities will be strictly enforced.
The men’s event will take place between May 8th and 10th, and will feature Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, the current world number eight and beaten semi-finalists in the US Open last year, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Tennys Sandgren.
A fortnight later (May 22nd 24th) it will be the turn of the women, with their field featuring three Americans as well, including Alison Riske, Danielle Collins and the highly-talented Amanda Anisimova. Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic will also be in action.
Prize money will be on offer for both events, which will be broadcast live on TennisChannel, although commentary will be provided from a studio in Los Angeles, more than 2,600 miles away.
To make the events more interactive, headphones will be provided for the competitors to use during handovers in order to communicate with the studio and provide live feedback on the action and their match situation. In addition, famous ex-pros like Andy Roddick will be following the matches live via Skype and will provide expert analysis before, during, and after the games.