O'Connell headlines new pro tennis series

Darren Walton
Chris O'Connell will headline the new domestic pro tennis series starting in Sydney on Saturday

Rising stars Chris O'Connell and Rinky Hijikata headline the men's field as professional tennis resumes with the opening round of Australia's new domestic pro series in Sydney on Saturday.

A winner of an unrivalled 86 matches on the global tours in 2019, O'Connell will be looking to continue where he left off before the coronavirus shut down the sport in March.

The world No.116 will be joined by teenage talent Hijikata and fellow young gun Max Purcell in the eight-man round-robin competition being staged at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Offering $450,000 in prize money, the pro series will provide players with the opportunity to gain all-important match practice following the months-long suspension of the international tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rounds are also being held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The men's field for the Melbourne round starting on Sunday features a line-up resembling an Australian Open wildcard playoff, with the likes of established stars Alex Bolt, Marc Polmans and two-time junior grand slam champion Luke Saville taking part.

While world No.1 Ashleigh Barty is focusing on training ahead of a potential US Open title tilt in September, most of Australia's elite women's players have signed up for the pro series.

Former US Open winner Samantha Stosur and Daria Gavrilova are sitting out round one but are tipped to take part later in the series.

Bernard Tomic's sister Sara is in the women's field in Brisbane, where Jason Kubler and grand-slam regular John-Patrick Smith headline the men's event starting on Monday.

Organisers have worked closely within government guidelines in each state to ensure strict physical biosecurity and social distancing rules are in place, along with additional hygiene and safety precautions.

On-court personnel will be limited, with a chair umpire, minimal lines-people and no ball kids, while players must bring their own towels.