USTA officials are set to unveil their formal plan for the 2020 US Open later this month, but some of the world’s top tennis players are doubtful the tournament can happen even with strict safety measures imposed.
A USTA executive revealed that organizers are hoping to stage the grand slam as scheduled in New York. Given the ongoing pandemic – particularly New York’s regional outbreak – keeping the tournament in place would require modifications, including ramped up testing for athletes, centralized accommodations, no spectators and reduced entourages traveling with each player. Despite these proposed scenarios, players aren’t convinced that the tournament should happen in August.
“Well, is not an ideal situation, honestly no,” reigning men’s champion Rafael Nadal revealed in an interview with The New York Times. “If you ask me today if I want to travel today to New York to play a tennis tournament, I will say no, I will not. In a couple of months, I don’t know how the situation is going to improve. Hopefully, it’s going to improve the right way, and I’m sure the people who organize the event, the USTA, want a safe event, same like the French federation.”
Under normal circumstances, Nadal was supposed to be in Paris the past few weeks defending his French Open title. The French Tennis Federation postponed the event to September, now setting it a week after the US Open is scheduled to conclude. While Nadal seemed to favor a postponement of the US Open, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic slammed the various safety criteria in discussion.
“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis, there were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it is not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic told Prva TV, via Yahoo Sports. “The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme.
“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 three-time US Open champ added. “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. All their suggestions are really rigorous but I can understand that due to financial reasons, due to already existing contracts, organisers [want the event to be] held. We will see what will happen.”
Australian star Ashleigh Barty shared her concerns as well for committing to travel to the US for any events, should they remain on the 2020 schedule.
“It’s exciting that tennis is being talked about again. Things are moving in the right direction for us to start competing,” Barty told the Sydney Morning Herald. “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. It’s not just me, it’s my team and I have to consider.”
Both the ATP and WTA tours remain on hiatus through July as dozens of tournaments have been scrapped, including Wimbledon.