Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic each expressed little desire to come to New York for the U.S. Open, still slated to start Aug. 31 in Flushing Meadows, likely without fans.
According to a tennis source, Roger Federer is also on the fence about playing the Open if it is staged.
Your loss, Rafa, Roger and Djoker.
The USTA has reached out to several players and is aware of concerns from Europeans in their 30s about coming to New York under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Some players are concerned about quarantining after arriving in the U.S. and sources also indicate they are concerned about quarantining when flying back to Europe for the French Open immediately after.
The USTA is undeterred. An announcement on whether the Open will go on is expected after June 15, but it is leaning toward playing tennis in Queens in September — as it always has.
Good for the USTA.
Americans — and the world — need the distraction, especially if there is no baseball.
“The right thing to do for the sport is to play,’’ longtime USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told The Post. “If you can do it safely, our goal still is to play.”
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, known as “The Big 3,” should play, too, and be part of the world getting back to normal. Foremost, these tennis stars are entertainers. Sometimes the show must go on. The world needs to be entertained like never before — even if the stars are inconvenienced.
The Open is planning to stage the event in a bubble environment — just as the NBA will restart with players confined to Disney World. No basketball players are complaining.
At the Open, there’s talk of smaller player entourages, fewer on-court officials, no locker-room access for players on their off days.
“The rules they told us we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme,’’ Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV. “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.
“They want the tournament to go ahead at any cost for economic reasons, which I understand,” the Serbian star said. “But the question is, how many players are willing to accept those terms.”
Sunday was supposed to be the French Open men’s final. Back in March, without informing the USTA, the French Tennis Federation pushed back its tournament to one week after the U.S. Open’s completion — on Sept 20. The U.S. Open men’s final is scheduled for Sept. 13.
The French’s rash decision put the Open in a bind. It did not give the USTA flexibility to push back the event two weeks — which would have been possible considering New York’s pleasant autumns.
Some tennis sources believe Nadal is mostly reluctant about the Open because he wants to save himself for Paris, where he is king. Nadal appears less averse to playing amid a pandemic if the surface is red clay, on which he’s won the French Open 12 times.
“If you [ask] me today, today I will say, ‘No,’ ” Nadal said Friday on a conference call. “In a couple of months? I don’t know. Hopefully, ‘Yes.’ But we need to wait probably until we have more clear information about how the virus evolves and how the situation is going to be in New York in a couple of months. Because, of course, New York has been one of the places that have been very strongly hit by the virus.”
In April, USTA CEO Mike Dowse viewed the idea of a fan-less Open as “a highly unlikely scenario.”
“It’s not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis,’’ Dowse said.
The USTA has had second thoughts. The idea floated of hosting limited fans has been all but scrapped. Too complicated and unsafe. The report about the Cincinnati tuneup event being moved to Flushing is also not expected to happen.
Without ticket revenue and hospitality money, the USTA will net less than 50 percent of its normal revenue, but still wants to do it and hand out nearly the same prize money as 2019.
The global TV cash and most of the sponsorship revenue will still be there. So will the electricity — whether Nadal, Federer or Djokovic show up in Queens or not.
Source: Read Full Article