Riske Advances To UTR Pro Match Series Final, Then It Rained

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Day Two of the UTR Pro Match Series exhibition tournament included a surprising finish Saturday afternoon: Mother Nature brought just enough rain to force both Ajla Tomljanovic and Danielle Collins off the court.

“Tennis is back to normal. It’s a rain delay,” said Tennis Channel commentator Steve Weissman, in describing the afternoon spring shower that reached the private hard court site in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the UTR Pro Match Series is taking place this weekend as part of Tennis Channel‘s (Re)Open Tour.

After a brief delay, play was called off for the remainder of the day. Collins and Tomljanovic will complete their deciding group play match, currently tied at a set each, Sunday morning. After dropping the first set 3-4 (4), Collins fought back to take the second set 4-3 (6). Down 2-3, 0-40, Tomljanovic saved four set points to force a tie-break, which Collins won by taking the last two points.

There’s plenty at stake for both Tomljanovic and Collins. Each is currently 1-1 in the group standings. So, the continuation of their suspended match assumes a winner-take-all atmosphere. Indeed, the winner advances to Sunday afternoon’s championship match against top seed Alison Riske, who earlier in the day beat Collins, 4-1, 1-4, 4-1, to improve to 2-1.

“To be honest, yesterday I was pretty nervous. I played some scrappy tennis,” said the 19th-ranked Riske during a TV interview after her victory over No. 51 Collins in the first match of the day. “Ajla, obviously, played pretty well and Amanda gave me a run for my money. I was looking to come out today and play my brand of first ball tennis, to be aggressive, first-ball tennis. … I think I did a little better today.”

The loser will play 28th-ranked Amanda Anisomova for third place. In the middle of three scheduled matches Saturday, Anisomova rebounded from down a set and a break – and won six straight games at one point – en route to beating No. 56 Tomljanovic, 2-4, 4-1, 4-2, for her first win of the series after losing both of her matches on Friday.

“The first set was really tough and then I kind of got my rhythm and started making my shots,” said Anisimova, ranked 28th. “I thought my game was coming back smoothly, so I am glad with how I finished.”

Anisimova was asked during her post-match TV interview about what it felt like playing with no spectators and also having to retrieve her own balls. “It kind of feels like juniors, honestly,” she said. “I miss playing in front of fans. I’m happy there’s been a lot of messages (on my phone) from people saying they’ve been watching me on TV. It’s nice to see that.”

Sunday’s revised order of play will begin at 11 a.m. EST (4 p.m. London, 5 p.m. Central European) with the resumption of the Tomljanovic-Collins match. It will be followed by the third-place match between Anisimova and the Tomljanovic-Collins loser. Finally, the championship final will match Riske against the Tomljanovic-Collins winner. Going into Sunday’s play, Riske is 2-1, Tomljanovic and Collins are each 1-1, and Anisimova is 1-2.