The Biggest Problem Of Holding The US Open Behind Closed Doors Could Be The Players - UBITENNIS
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The Biggest Problem Of Holding The US Open Behind Closed Doors Could Be The Players

Many are eager to return to the Tour, but are they willing to play without fans?

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The United States Tennis Association appears determine to stage this year’s US Open despite the threat of COVID-19. One option is slowly emerging as a strong possibility but there is already opposition from some of the sport’s top names.

 

Held at the Billie Jean Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows, the Grand Slam is located in the epicentre of the outbreak in America. The state of New York has recorded 367,625 cases of the coronavirus with 203,569 of those testing positive living in New York City. As on Monday more than 29,000 people have died from the virus. Nevertheless cases in New York are coming down and their infamous stock exchange is opening back up. Yet, still the prospect of hosting an event with thousands of people attending seems a long way off. 

Given the situation, numerous options are being weighed up regarding the US Open, including the possibility of hosting it in another part of the country. However, one path previously classed as ‘highly unlikely’ by the head of the USTA is slowly gaining momentum. 

A fan-less US Open could be the best possible solution to ensuring the event could be held in New York. Undoubtedly the USTA would still take a big financial hit considering 737,872 fans visited the 2019 event. Although the USTA’s Chief Revenue Officer, Lew Sherr, believes it could still be financially viable. 

“Two months ago, it just didn’t feel like you could stage the celebration or the spectacle that is the U.S. Open in a no-fan scenario and have it be what we think of as the U.S. Open,” Sherr told Sports Business Daily on May 21st.
“As we’ve gone forward, I’ve come around to recognizing what an achievement it would be to play, and how much our fans are missing the game and would be excited to see the competition, and that you need to think about it differently. It’s a different event. It would be broadcast differently, it would be consumed differently, it’s not just playing the U.S. Open as you know it, with empty seats.”

Sherr said he has received key backing from sponsors over the potential plan with many viewing it as a ‘historic event.’ Pointing out that media-right deals will still enable those sponsors to be promoted worldwide. 

However there is one problem that the USTA most probably didn’t want to encounter – a lack of enthusiasm from some of the sports stars. It all started when 2014 champion Marin Cilic told Reuters that such a move could ‘devalue’ this year’s US Open. The Croat is one of two players outside of the Big Four to have won the event within the past decade along with Stan Wawrinka (2016).

“I just feel that it’s going to more or less feel like practice matches,” Cilic argues.
“It’s always going to be … in the years to come, ‘oh, you know that guy won a U.S. Open in 2020 without fans’. I don’t think it’s going to have that weight…
“It wouldn’t be the best scenario.”

Roger Federer admits that he will find it difficult to play without a crowd cheering him on. The Swiss tennis star is usually one of the star attractions at Flushing Meadows and is a five-time champion. Although he hasn’t featured in a final there since 2015. For Federer how would rather wait than take the path of playing behind closed doors. 

“For us, of course, it is possible to play without any fans,” he said. “But on the other hand, I really hope that the circuit can return as it normally is. May we wait for the appropriate time to return to normal mode again. At least a third of the stadium or half full. But for me, completely empty when playing in big tournaments is very difficult.”

It isn’t just the men who have expressed their concerns. Petra Kvitova is another star to voice her opposition. The two-time Wimbledon champion has said she would rather have the event canceled altogether. Like Cilic, the Czech believes playing a major without fans could harm its image. 

“I have my age and of course I would like to play another Grand Slam, but if it’s like this, I’d rather cancel them,” said Kvitova.
“Playing a Grand Slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn’t look nice to me and the Grand Slam doesn’t deserve it.”

Kvitova is playing in an all-Czech tournament in Prague this week which is being played behind closed doors. 

Despite the trio of objections, not everybody is against the plan. British player Dan Evans believes such an occasion could be ‘iconic’ for the sport. Arguing that it will send out a message that the sport is ready to get going.

“Me, personally, I would love it to go ahead,” Evans told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I think it would send out a real statement that we can get back going.
“It could be an amazing spectacle that tennis goes ahead with no-one in the stadium, and everybody watching on telly.”

The US Open is set to take place between August 30th – September 13th. The USTA will make a final decision regarding the event next month. 

Grand Slam

Tennis Umpire Bernardes Suffers Heart Attack In Melbourne Quarantine

The well-known official is said to be ‘doing well’ after suffering a major health scare.

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Carlos Bernardes (image via Tennis World USA)

Renowned tennis umpire Carlos Bernardes was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack inside his hotel room, according to various sources.

 

The Brazilian tennis official was staying in one of the hotels currently used for quarantine in Melbourne. A picture of Bernardes being taken to hospital in an ambulance has been posted on social media but there have been no official statement from local authorities on the situation. It is understood that he is ‘doing well’ following the medical emergency.

Australian media reported that Bernardes was in ‘hard quarantine’ which is the system used for those who have been classed as potential contact cases of people who test positive for COVID-19. At present there are 72 players in this kind of quarantine after a series of flights en route to Australia reported positive cases. Under government rules, they are not allowed to leave their room for 14 days. Others are allowed to leave their rooms for up to five hours each day.

According to Brazilian tennis official Ricardo Reis Bernardes experienced no complications and he is continuing to be medicated. Reis has issued details concerning Bernardes’ condition in a statement which has been published by Tenis Brasil.

“He had a heart attack in the morning. We are at the same hotel. When I saw the ambulance arrive, I even sent him a photo saying that someone was not well, and he said: ‘I was the one who called. I am in pain. In the chest and such,” he said.
“Luckily he called quickly and the service came too.’
“It was a heart attack, the veins was clogged. But he was medicated and he spent a few hours in the hospital taking medication. We spoke several times yesterday afternoon and evening [Wednesday, Australian time].
“”Now, in the morning [Thursday], I haven’t talked to him yet. But he was well and medicated. They were going to put on a stent, but he didn’t have to. They had the veins unblocked and etc. And he was fine. In the afternoon and at night he was fine, we talked in the afternoon and at night and everything was fine “

Bernardes is a veteran Tour official after having worked on the ATP Tour since 1990. He has taken charge of numerous high-profile men’s matches including two US Open finals in 2006 and 2008, as well as the 2011 Wimbledon final.

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Novak Djokovic’s Quarantine Letter Fails To Win Over Officials

Three senior government figures have dismissed a list of demands set out by the world No.1 over the weekend.

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Efforts by Novak Djokovic to make adjustments to the conditions for players quarantining in Australia have been overwhelmingly rejected by government officials.

 

On Sunday it was reported that the 17-time Grand Slam champion wrote a letter to Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley in which he outlined a series of measures he would like to see implemented in order to make the current conditions for players better. Among his list of suggestions, Djokovic called for players to be moved to private housing with access to tennis courts. He also urged for more testing to be conducted in a bid to reduce the length of ‘hard quarantine’ some are going through.

Djokovic’s letter comes as at least 72 players are currently placed in stricter quarantine after being classed as a close contact to a positive case. En route to Melbourne a series of flights reported at least one person on board have tested positive for COVID-19. Under regional rules, all those on board the plans are classed as closed contacts. Those affected are required to stay in their room for 14 days and will not be allowed to train.

Responding to the letter Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has shut down Djokovic’s ideas without any hesitation. Speaking to reports Mr Andrews insisted that no special treatment will be given.

“People are free to provide lists of demands but the answer is no,” he said.
“I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules – well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came and that was a condition on which they came.’
“There’s no special treatment here … because a virus doesn’t treat you specially.”

Emma Cassar, who is the COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner, shares a similar view to the Premier regarding Djokovic. Stating that there will be no changes made to the current rules.

“It’s a firm NO from me,” Cassar told 3AW Radio.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is showing little sympathy to Djokovic’s initiative as he called for everybody to continue following the rules implemented.

“I think it’s just time people followed the rules, do their quarantine, play Tennis,” Morrison commented on the matter. “I’m sure they’ll put on a great spectacle and the Australian Open will go ahead.”

Under a plan set out by Tennis Australia, Djokovic is spending his quarantine in Adelaide along with the three highest ranked players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s. Meanwhile, others are residing in Melbourne.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

The things Djokovic asked for

  • Fitness and training material in all rooms
  • Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete
  • Reduce the days of isolation for the 47* isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative
  • Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR
  • If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel
  • Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train

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Grand Slam

REPORT: Novak Djokovic Sends Letter To Australian Open Chief Over Quarantine Measures

There is a fresh headache for Craig Tiley with the world No.1 calling for changes to the current system.

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Novak Djokovic has issued a letter to the head of the Australian Open calling for new measures to be put in place to enable fairness for all players in quarantine, according to the Spanish website Punto de Break.

 

It is understood that the 17-time Grand Slam champion has called for Craig Tiley to do more to support those who have had to go into a stricter quarantine after being on board a plane with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. Under rules set out by the local government, all players in this situation must isolate for 14 days in their room and not leave. At the time of Djokovic’s letter two planes carrying players were affected but since then a third has emerged. French player Alexandre Muller has confirmed that those who were on flight QR7485 from Doha must enter the strict quarantine. It is unclear as to how many players this will affect.

Journalist Fernando Murciego has reported that he has obtained information concerning Djokovic’s letter in which he calls for a series of measurements. Including the use of more PCR testing to help reduce the 14-day period of strict quarantine for players. He has also called for as many players as possible to be moved to private houses with tennis courts. Something that is unlikely to happen given the complexity and number of players.

According to Punto de Break, Djokovic has asked for the following :-

  • Fitness and training material in all rooms
  • Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete
  • Reduce the days of isolation for the 47* isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative
  • Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR
  • If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel
  • Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train

*This number has since increased following confirmation of the Doha flight.

Djokovic, who is the former president of the ATP Player Council before resigning to help set up the PTPA, has not commented on the letter and neither has Tiley. Although one government official has already stated that there will be no changes to the length of their quarantine system.

The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact.” The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria, Emma Cassar, told reporters on Sunday. .
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Whilst Tiley has the say when it comes to the running of the Melbourne Grand Slam his power is somewhat limited by his own government and their policy on COVID-19. Tennis Australia says they are currently in discussions with both players and relevant parties regarding the scheduling of future events.

Djokovic is spending his quarantine in Adelaide along with the top three ranked players on both the ATP and WTA Tour’s.

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