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Top players need to decide on US Open participation

Now that the US Open is going ahead, top players must decide on their participation, weighing up the risks against the gains.

We’re excited about the US Open. It will be held without fans, but you can watch it on TV — and I’ll take that. The USTA will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation. Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor

Details of arrangements will be released by the USTA later on Wednesday, and these will, no doubt, help those who are undecided, such as the Australian contingent that includes women’s World No 1 Ashleigh Barty, Nick Kyrgios and John Millman amongst others, who are worried about having to quarantine for 14 days when they return home.

Simona Halep, the World No 2, remains ‘highly unlikely’ to play because of the strict health protocols to be put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokeswoman for the Romanian has told Reuters, while both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have indicated they too may well be absent.

Djokovic has been one of the most vocal critics of the US Open, saying that safety measures and restrictions on the numbers of support staff allowed for each player were problematic.

“We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week,” the World No 1 said. “Also, we could bring one person to the club, which is really impossible.

“I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

Djokovic’s misgivings have been shared by defending men’s singles champion Nadal, who would be chasing a Roger Federer-tying major at Flushing Meadows.

Federer remains on the sidelines, having just undergone a second procedure on his troublesome knee and plans to return to competition in 20121.

Nadal, the World No 2, said earlier this month he would not play in New York if the tournament was taking place now, adding that tennis should not resume until it is ‘completely safe’ for competitors.

After getting the go-ahead from New York governor Andrew Cuomo late on Tuesday, details are inevitably leaking out ahead of the USTA’s official announcement.

“We’re excited about the US Open,” Cuomo said. “It will be held without fans, but you can watch it on TV — and I’ll take that.

“The USTA will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation,” Cuomo said.

The governor added that the tournament will be played without fans from 31 August to 13 September.

Cincinnati will be held at Flushing Meadows ahead of the US Open as the warm-up event, with a 56 main draw and qualifying for 48.

The US Open will follow, fielding a draw of 128-draw but, while there will be no qualifying competition, 32 teams will gain entry into both events.

Total prize money purse for both events will be $60 million.

It seems there will be some easing of arrangements for player entourages, which has proven to be such a sticking point for many players, including Djokovic and Barty.

“It’s not just me, it’s my team I have to consider,” Barty said recently. “It’s exciting that tennis is being talked about again and things are moving in the right direction for us to start competing.

“But I’d need to understand all of the information and advice from the WTA and the USTA before making a decision on the US events.”

The previously suggested limit of just one accompanying person has apparently been dropped, though, although players will only be allowed two rooms at the official hotels, with a maximum of two people in each room.

Players, however, will be allowed to rent houses in the surrounding suburbs but not in Manhattan, at their own cost.

Testing will be compulsory for all players once or twice a week and, unless engaged in a physical activity such as playing a match, practicing or working out, masks must be worn.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the world feels about the US Open over the coming few weeks.

With the danger of the coronavirus not fully eliminated, there will be precautionary measures that must be strictly followed while everyone endures in this ever-evolving time.

The ATP and WTA are now expected to announce revised calendars for the rest of the year on the back of the US Open announcement, taking into account the dates of the postponed French Open in late September.



1 Comment

  1. Kerry Grace

    Anyone honestly believe that rafa and novak won’t play when rafa would equal Fed’s GS record if he won and novak would be just two slams behind fed if he won? Of course they will be there. The only thing that might stop djokovic and thiem playing is a positive test which is far more likely after this week’s exhibition event in Serbia where it was a case of ‘what social distancing?’


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