In what is proving a fast-moving story, the USTA is poised to reverse its decision on dropping the wheelchair event from this year’s US Open, revamped to conform to strict rules and prevent the spread of COVID-19 which is still prevalent in New York.
The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF to explore a number of potential scenarios for the wheelchair competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition USTA statement
It would be their second U-turn since confirming the American leg of the Grand Slam was able to go ahead as originally planned on the 31st August, as they changed their minds on the number of team members players could have, from one to three.
Having announced that the mixed doubles and the wheelchair competitions, the qualifying tournament, the juniors and legends would all be dropped this year, the reaction from wheelchair players has been immense following Australian Dylan Alcott’s original cry describing the announcement as being discriminatory.
The latest cry of foul came from Quentin Halys of France, ranked 194, who decried the lack of qualifying telling L’Equipe: “I saw Richard (Gasquet); I saw Lopez and others who spoke and said: either we get US Open where everyone can play, or we get nothing … I am a little surprised that they accept more people in the entourage and that they eliminated qualifying.
“I would have found it more logical to give priority to the players rather than the staffs. We are living in such a bizarre situation that everyone can understand. The staff is good, but the main thing remains the players.”
Meanwhile the wheelchair competition is now set to be reinstated following a call last Friday by the USTA (chief executive officer Mike Dowse, US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster and US Open wheelchair tournament director Jo Wallen) to the International Tennis Federation and leaders of the wheelchair athletes.
After what was described as a “very productive call” the USTA issued the following statement:
“The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF to explore a number of potential scenarios for the wheelchair competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition,” it read.
“The USTA expects to gather player feedback on their perspective and work with the ITF to finalise an approach to the 2020 US Open wheelchair competition.”
Meanwhile the BBC revealed the offers made to the players as disclosed by France’s
The 22-time Grand Slam champion said the players were presented with three options on which they would vote on next Monday.
Should they decide to play in New York during the Championships, they will receive 95% of last year’s prize fund.
Alternatively, they could compete in a delayed tournament in Orlando during October or receive $150,000 compensation to be shared amongst the players for their cancellation of the 2020 championship.
Britain’s Andy Lapthorne, who won the singles and doubles in the quad division at last year’s US Open, said the initial decision felt “like we’re going back years”.
But in response to the USTA’s statement, the 29-year old said: “Thank you, let’s move forward together.”