Sports

US Open: Organizers insist it won’t be cancelled

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is set to press ahead with plans to host the US Open as first scheduled.

Forbes reported that the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) are expected to approve the plan, which would see the tournament take place from August 31 to September 13 in New York.

A formal announcement is expected to be made should city and state health officials sign off on the plans.

“We’re following each step in the [restart] procedure in the great hope that we can announce that the 2020 US Open will be played in its regularly scheduled date,” USTA director of communications Chris Widmaier told ESPN.

“We hope to make an announcement in the very near future.”

The tournament is expected feature a series of measures aimed at reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus – something which hasn’t gone down well with all players.

This would reportedly include the creation of a “bubble” for participants, which would see players restricted to a tournament hotel outside Manhattan and be limited to one member of support staff each.

Qualification would also be removed, while doubles fields would be reduced in size.

The proposals for the tournament, which would be played behind closed doors, have received a mixed response from players.

Serbian star and world number one Novak Djokovic has been among the most vocal in criticising the plan, with the three-time US Open champion having labelled the measures “extreme”.

Djokovic has suggested he may opt to skip the tournament, citing concerns over the limited player entourage, restricted access to courts and potential quarantines on arrival.

The plans would reportedly include moving the Cincinnati Open to New York to be played in conjunction with the US Open.

The Cincinnati Open would reportedly begin on August 16.

The USTA has said it has taken on more debt to ensure the US Open can take place this year, with the organisation having had to lay off 130 members of staff due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

New York has been among the worst-hit cities from coronavirus worldwide and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – the US Open venue – was even turned into a makeshift hospital at one point.

A total of 383,000 cases have been confirmed in the city since the outbreak began, resulting in more than 30,000 confirmed deaths.

The pandemic has already led to the cancellation of one of the year’s other Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon.

The French Open has been postponed until September 20, meaning it is currently scheduled to start a week after the conclusion of the US Open.

All ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation tournaments are currently on hold, but several tournaments have been staged in Europe in recent weeks, with Djokovic among those playing.

In another sign that it is ready for the sport’s return, the USTA today confirmed that its under-18 and under-16 National Championships will go ahead in August.

The boys’ under-18 contest is set for Kalamazoo in Michigan and the girls’ under-18 tournament for San Diego.

Mobile in Alabama and Georgia in Rome have been designated as the venues for the boys’ and girls’ under-16 events respectively.

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