WASHINGTON, June 16: The US Tennis Association intends to hold the US Open in New York starting in August without spectators, if it gets governmental support and a formal announcement could come this week.
Like many sports, the professional tennis tours have been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The French Open was postponed from May to September and Wimbledon cancelled altogether for the first time in 75 years. The US Open, if played, would be the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, following the Australian Open in January.
�We�re ready to move forward as long as we get all the approvals we need,� USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said in a telephone interview on Monday.
�At the end of the day, there are three factors involved in the decision-making. No. 1 is creating a plan that has health and safety at the forefront. No. 2 is whether conducting the US Open is the right thing for the sport of tennis. And No. 3 is whether it can be done in a financially viable manner. We believe we can hit all three of the objectives,� Widmaier said.
�But we do need to approach this in a step-by-step manner, and when all of the steps are completed, that is when we can make an official announcement.�
The operational plan to hold the event amid concerns about the coronavirus includes no spectators, limited player entourages, centralised housing, increased cleaning at the tournament grounds in Flushing Meadows and testing for COVID-19.
Also part of the plan: There would be no qualifying for singles. Players whose rankings would have put them in that field will get money that the USTA will pass along to the ATP and WTA tours to distribute. The Cincinnati tournament scheduled for August 16-23, which is majority owned by the USTA, will be moved to New York in place of US Open qualifying.
�We have submitted our proposal to the state of New York. It�s a very comprehensive plan that details all operational aspects of the tournament � first and foremost, the health and safety of anyone involved in the tournament,� Widmaier said.
�We are waiting to hear back from state officials on the viability of that plan. The US Open is one of many professional sports entities within the state of New York and we recognise that the state needs to review all sports in a comprehensive manner.�
One big question that remains, if the state gives the go-ahead: Which players would participate? Such top names as both No. 1-ranked players, Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty, have expressed reservations about heading to New York. So has defending men�s champion Rafael Nadal.
Already ruled out: Roger Federer, who has won five of his men�s-record 20 Grand Slam singles titles at the US Open but announced recently that he is out for the rest of the year after needing a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. � AP