On the day when the French Open should be getting underway, speculation as to the fate of this year’s US Open continues to grow, with all sorts of scenarios apparently under consideration, but with the coronavirus pandemic still prevalent around the world, the odds on the hard court Grand Slam being held at all are narrowing as a decision is expected next month.
The USTA’s goal is to hold the 2020 US Open in New York on its currently scheduled dates. We understand that there is a great deal of speculation regarding the USTA’s planning for the 2020 US Open. Chris Widmaier, USTA spokesperson
There is probably more chance that the French Open in Paris will be played in September, although Guy Forget, the Roland Garros Tournament Director, says they are waiting on the USTA announcement.
“The official announcement has not been made yet. It [Roland Garros] will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October,” he told French radio Europe 1.
“We’ve been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year.
“There are so many question marks. The city of New York is more affected by the coronavirus than France.
“They also have a lot of organisation problems, they will make an announcement mid-June to say how it’s going to be like for the US Open.”
Although France has banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people up until August, Forget says they are hopeful they will have a tournament with spectators.
“We’ll see how the situation is in a couple of months. We will adapt to what the government will say. We have to be ambitious and optimistic,” he said.
Chris Widmaier, the USTA spokesperson said earlier this week: “The USTA’s goal is to hold the 2020 US Open in New York on its currently scheduled dates.
“We understand that there is a great deal of speculation regarding the USTA’s planning for the 2020 US Open.
“We would like to clarify that while we are exploring every possibility around the US Open, the potential to shift the event location or date is not at the forefront at this point in time.”
It seems there had been an outside chance that the US Open could be moved to Indian Wells or Orlando but now the front-runner appears to be holding the event without fans, the logistics for which remain considerable.
The fact that BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Elison has stated on Twitter that he will not hold a tournament in Indian Wells until there is a COVID-19 vaccine has also put paid to the Indian Wells option.
Because of current travel restrictions, players would have to quarantine for two weeks and could only be accompanied by vastly reduced support teams.
Gyms and locker rooms would need to be spread out throughout the facility and seeded players might use luxury suites as locker rooms so that players are contained within an inner bubble on site, and travel directly from their hotels to the site and back.
There would be few or no media on hand but press conferences could, of course, be held virtually.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was used for weeks as a medical centre and is now being returned to its original purpose, enabling the site to be used again for the US Open.
New York has been America’s epicentre for COVID-19 and until recently, the chances of the Open being staged were slight, but now the thinking is becoming more optimistic, although the gamble will surely be whether top players are prepared to travel there.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal has been reticent about playing for the rest of the year, and Novak Djokovic has expressed his much-discussed doubts about being vaccinated.
A key reason to go forward with the US Open is TV revenue, with ESPN reportedly paying millions more in broadcast rights than the $57.3 million the major paid last year in prize money.
In addition, tens of millions more dollars come in from global broadcast rights and there would be at least some income from sponsors.
If the Open offered the same prize money as last year, it could still, therefore, be financially worthwhile.
Shifting the event dates is nigh on impossible after the French Open’s decision in March to postpone until September, which has had the unintended consequence of bringing the men’s and women’s circuits closer together.
Now, there is a real chance that the ATP and WTA will cooperate more in the future, or even unite, but all of that is a long way off since the ruling bodies have to navigate the games’ emergence from this current crisis, and if there is another wave of the pandemic, needless to say all bets will be off.
Meanwhile, fans are invited to spruce up their virtual office for their next conference call, team meeting, birthday party or happy hour with some custom backdrops from the US Open.
These include looks down various walkways, in premier plazas, and the New York City skyline as well views inside Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums and the backdrop in the media conference.
To download the backgrounds, click HERE, right-click on the image of your choice, and save it to your computer for loading into your next Zoom chat.