WATCH ON DEMAND: UTR Pro Match Series—West Palm Beach; Friday, May 8

WATCH ON DEMAND: UTR Pro Match Series—West Palm Beach; Friday, May 8

ATP Top 60-players Hubert Hurkacz, Miomir Kecmanovic, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul played a live tennis event for the first time since early March.

On Friday, the UTR Pro Match Series presented by Tennis Channel kicked off in West Palm Beach, Fla., as ATP players Hubert Hurkacz, Miomir Kecmanovic, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul played a live tennis event for the first time since early March. 

With inclement weather expected Sunday, organizers made swift adjustments by modifying the event schedule into a two-day tournament. The championship and third-place matches will now take place Saturday after round-robin play has concluded, and windows on Tennis Channel have been extended to accommodate the change. 

"I'm excited, I'm curious, I'm fascinated to see how this is actually going to work," Andy Roddick said before proceedings began. "I'm curious to see what the energy level is going to be [and] would love to see one of these guys to drop a huge come on and stare someone down early in this, just to make it feel real."

Here are the standings after the first day of competition. Watch full replays on demand below, along with match recaps and photos. 


Kecmanovic d. Hurkacz, 4-3 (2), 4-1

The Serbian ran away with the first set tiebreaker after saving a set point when serving at 2-3, 40-40, thanks to constructing an aggressive point. Kecmanovic was nearly flawless on the baseline, while Hurkacz couldn’t quite find his range on the forehand wing.

 

Consistency won out, as Kecmanovic forced the Pole to play an extra volley on a deciding point in the second game of set two. Hurkacz couldn’t execute, cutting it long to get broken, and with the Fast4 format, gave the 20-year-old all he needed to end the day at 1-1.

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Opelka d. Paul, 3-4 (4), 4-1, 4-0

Paul came ready to play in the early goings against his quarantine roommate. In the tiebreaker, Paul unloaded on a backhand pass to strike first on return, enough to eventually propel him to a one-set lead. As friendly banter began to pick up, so did Opelka’s game.

 

From 0-1 down in the second, Opelka claimed eight games in a row by consistently making his returns. Paul called his buddy's serve “annoying” in a pre-event Zoom press conference, and perhaps revisited that emotion after seeing a match quickly get away from him for the second time Friday.


Opelka d. Kecmanovic, 4-3 (4), 4-0

Each player held with relative ease to reach an opening tiebreaker. Opelka was down an early mini break, but all set long, connected on his stronger weapon—the forehand—to finish off points. Kecmanovic ultimately pushed an open court forehand volley long to drop the set.

 

The 6’ 11’’ Opelka secured the first break on a deciding point by rushing the net off a second serve backhand return. He ran away from there, riding his booming serve to the finish line in finishing with 12 aces.

"It's only been two months, but it feels like a year," Opelka expressed in his post-match interview using a headset provided to every player. "I've been returning a lot better. We've been working on it the few days we've been practicing. I've watched a lot of old matches, watched a lot of Djokovic as well. Learned from him, the greatest returner."

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Health and safety first, tennis second

Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic has his temperature taken by an on-site nurse before getting ready for his opening match against Reilly Opelka.

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Players are each given their own set of marked balls for every match to minimize risk.

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Staff sanitizes the court in-between matches through deep cleaning precautions.

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Hurkacz d. Paul, 4-2, 4-0

Early signs of rust and issues with finding rhythm were understandable, as Hurkacz double-faulted on a deciding point and Paul, at times, couldn't pinpoint his forehand. Playing under the Fast4 format, the American looked to send the first set into a tiebreaker, but saw his 40-15 lead slip away. The two showed off their best ball-striking in the final point of the set, when Hurkacz prevailed after his opponent’s forehand sailed wide.

 

The Pole carried his momentum through the second set, reeling off the final seven games to clinch the day’s first match, and showed his sense of humor by waiving to a crowd that wasn't present.

"It feels really good to be back in a competitive match. Obviously not playing matches for a while, you come up on the court a bit tight, you don't feel a great rhythm," Hurkacz said afterwards on Tennis Channel. "It's a bit different with no spectators, but I was trying to focus on my own thing. I was visualizing that they were enjoying the match at home."

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