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Professional tennis returns in Australia under strict biosecurity rules

Craig Tiley Tennis Australia CEO speaks during the 2020 ATP Cup Draw at The Sydney Opera House on September 16, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Tennis Australia will offer local professionals the opportunity to earn income while global tours remain postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The sports governing body is offering A$450,000 ($310,493/€275,559) in the UTR Pro Tennis Series series, which will start in Sydney on Saturday.

Countrywide matches are scheduled to take place at closed stadiums and under strict biosecurity protocols in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said: “With so much of the tennis season still uncertain, our aim through the UTR Pro Tennis Series is to give as many of our athletes the chance to compete and, importantly, also earn prize money, after months of not being able to make their living playing the sport they have devoted their lives to.

“Our team has put an enormous amount of time and effort into the planning of these events, and have worked closely with the authorities and tennis staff around the country on the ground to ensure they are run according to strict local biosecurity protocols,” he added.

The Biosecurity, health and safety protocols will include daily health and temperature checks for all on-site personnel, minimal personnel on site including no fans or ballkids and reduced lines-people.

Players will tap racquets instead of shaking hands and are encouraged to change ends on opposite sides of the court. They are also being advised to bring their own towels, food and drinks.

The first phase of the UTR Pro Tennis Series will run until August, with the possibility of extending further depending on the resumption of the global tours.

The organising committee for the Adria Tour tennis tournament has cancelled its remaining matches after a number of players, including director and founder Novak Djokovic, tested positive for Covid-19.

Novak Djokovic said he was “deeply sorry” after becoming the fourth tennis player to test positive for coronavirus following the exhibition tournament he hosted in the Balkans which saw minimal social distancing.