Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Open faces D-day due to player uncertainty about NYC



US Open faces D-day due to player uncertainty about NYC

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Defending US Open Champion Novak Djokovic says most players have a negative view toward plans to play the tournament in August. AFP

US Open faces D-day due to player uncertainty about NYC

The fate of the US Open is set to be revealed next week when officials decide whether or not the tournament can go ahead as planned amid mounting unease among top players.

The deadly Covid-19 pandemic, which has decimated the international tennis calendar, now has the Flushing Meadows fortnight in its crosshairs.

With New York the hardest-hit city by the US coronavirus crisis, the US Tennis Association (USTA) has been scrambling to come up with a plan that allows the tournament to be staged.

But with the French Open postponed to a September 20 start, Wimbledon cancelled and the tennis season in shutdown, the US Open’s status has looked increasingly questionable as its August 31 start date looms ever closer.

After considering and reportedly discarding the idea of moving the tournament to either California or Florida, the USTA has settled on staging the event in New York inside a protective “bubble”, possibly without fans.

Under safety protocols proposed for the tournament, players would be confined to a hotel outside of Manhattan and would only be allowed to bring one member of their entourage to the event.

Singles qualifying would be eliminated while the doubles tournaments would be drastically reduced from 64 pairings to just 24.

The ATP/WTA Cincinnati Masters event could also be shifted to New York as a lead-in tournament.

“This is the world we are living in,” USTA’s director of player relations Eric Butorac told ATP and WTA players during a conference call on Wednesday.

“We believe this is a good plan and believe it is good for the sport. It’s good for the tennis economy, creates jobs for you, for coaches, for commentators, for so many people.

“And most importantly, this plan keeps you safe.”

‘Mission ‘impossible’

So far, however, those words of reassurance have failed to quell unease amongst some of the international tennis circuit’s biggest names.

World No1 Novak Djokovic said the proposed safety measures and restrictions on the numbers of support staff were problematical.

Djokovic said: “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.

“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,” said the Serbian.

He said most players he had spoken to had “a rather negative view” about playing in New York, and predicted some would instead switch to the delayed clay court season instead.

Djokovic’s misgivings were shared by defending men’s singles champion Rafael Nadal, who would be chasing a 20th Grand Slam title at Flushing.

Spain’s Nadal, the world No2, said earlier this month that he would not play in New York if the tournament was taking place now.

The 34-year-old says tennis should not resume until it is “completely safe” for all competitors.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, accused the ATP Tour of riding roughshod over player concerns.

He tweeted: “The ATP is trying to make the US Open go ahead. Selfish with everything going on at the moment.”

Yet Djokovic’s reservations have not won over some of tennis’s rank and file. US women’s singles player Danielle Collins lambasted Djokovic’s public statements about the proposed limits on support staff.

Collins said: “This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with [him] will be too difficult.

“It’s easy when someone has made $150 million throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the US Open.”

Whatever the USTA decides, the organisation, which last week laid off more than 100 employees, is coming to terms with what will be another massive financial hit to revenues, which have already been “shattered”, said its president Patrick Galbraith.

Last year, an estimated $400 million of the USTA’s financial revenues of $485 million were generated by its flagship tournament, with a large chunk of that money coming from sponsors and people attending US Open matches.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed