Coronavirus pandemic

U.S. Open organisers calm players' fears

A sparse crowd at the Grandstand Court for a men's doubles third-round match at the 2018 US Open. This year's tournament will be held behind closed doors.
A sparse crowd at the Grandstand Court for a men's doubles third-round match at the 2018 US Open. This year's tournament will be held behind closed doors.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They give assurance Grand Slam will be held securely despite Citi Open being called off

WASHINGTON • US Open organisers said on Tuesday that the cancellation of next month's Citi Open "in no way impacts" the Grand Slam scheduled to be played behind closed doors at the end of August.

The Citi Open, which was supposed to start in Washington DC on Aug 13 and serve as a build-up for the US Open, was due to mark the resumption of the ATP men's tennis season after the coronavirus hiatus.

But it has been called off because of "continued uncertainties" amid the pandemic.

The Cincinnati Open and US Open are still scheduled to take place back-to-back in New York from Aug 20 and Aug 31 respectively, despite several top men's players casting doubts over the hard-court Grand Slam.

"This decision in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open," the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said in a statement.

"The USTA will create a safe and controlled environment for players and everyone else involved in both tournaments that mitigates health risks."

It added: "We constantly base our decisions regarding hosting these tournaments on our three guiding principles that include safety and health of all involved, whether hosting these events are in the best interest in the sport of tennis, and whether this decision is financially viable.

"We are confident we remain in line with all three guiding principles."

The US authorities are struggling to handle the coronavirus crisis as infections surge towards four million, with more than 140,000 deaths.

No spectators will be allowed at either tournament in New York, part of the safety measures in place to try and prevent Covid-19 infections at a facility which was used as a temporary coronavirus hospital when the region was the epicentre of the pandemic.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has recovered from the Covid-19 disease, earlier this month said he was undecided over whether to travel to compete in the US Open.

Last week, world No. 3 Dominic Thiem said that the tournament was "on shaky legs".

 
 
 
 

LITTLE TO WORRY

The USTA will create a safe and controlled environment for players and everyone else involved in both tournaments that mitigates health risks.

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION, on the Aug 31-Sept 13 US Open in New York.

The women's WTA tour is scheduled to restart on Aug 3 in Palermo, Italy, making it the first event on the recently announced new calendar.

It will be followed by a tournament in Prague the same week as a new hard-court event in Kentucky featuring Serena Williams.

The first chance for the men to play a regular tournament will be the Cincinnati Open.

"It's disappointing that due to these unprecedented times, the Citi Open will not be able to go ahead this year," said ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

"Unfortunately, for the moment, there are still large factors at play which are outside of our control."

Tournament chairman Mark Ein said in a statement: "There are too many unresolved external issues, including various international travel restrictions as well as troubling health and safety trends, that have forced us to make this decision now in fairness to our players, suppliers and partners, so that they can have certainty around their planning."

The ATP said a further update on the revised 2020 calendar will be released in the next fortnight, including the final phase of the season up to the ATP Finals in November.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2020, with the headline 'U.S. Open organisers calm players' fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe