Players should use separate balls according to the guidance ©Getty Images

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has published its first "Return to Tennis" guidelines which are aimed at helping national associations restart competitions once Government restrictions are eased amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body said a return to competitive tennis would also depend on appropriate health, safety and integrity measures being in place.

Guidance includes players remaining at least two metres from each other and no physical contact such as post-match handshakes.

Players should also use separate sets of balls which need to be clearly marked prior to play, while they are advised to go around opposite sides of the net at changeovers and not share equipment.

Only singles matches should be played, and matches should be held without spectators.

The full guidance contains specific advice for five different sets of tennis stakeholders, including national associations, players and officials, event organisers, tournament staff and fans.

Only singles matches should be played at this time, the ITF guidance says ©Getty Images
Only singles matches should be played at this time, the ITF guidance says ©Getty Images

The ITF say the guidance will ensure the risk of transmission or infection of coronavirus is reduced but the organisation added that it cannot be eliminated altogether.

Advice has been developed in accordance with the World Health Organization guidelines on the organisation of sports events, the governing body said.

Input also came from the chair of the ITF Sport Science and Medicine Commission.

The guidelines, which apply to local and national competitions only at this stage, also emphasise that decisions made by National Governments take precedence and that tennis should not be played until authorities have sufficiently relaxed any restrictions that are currently in place.

Specific guidelines for the return of international competitions will be provided at the appropriate time, the ITF said.