Mag By Craig Gabriel
US OPEN TO GO AHEAD WITH STRICT GUIDELINES AND NO FANS
It’s on! The US Open has been officially approved to happen and it will be played on its originally designated dates of 31 August to 13 September. The New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo has agreed to allow the major to happen and it will be one of the world’s first global events to be staged, albeit behind closed doors.
There has been a fair amount of discussion in recent days about the make-up of the Open, how it will look, who will play and in fact questioning whether it would be a “real major” if big names are missing, all that sort of stuff. Well enough of that. The US Open is a major irrespective of who does or doesn’t play.
There was a suggestion that whoever wins the Open this year would have an asterisk against their name. That is such rubbish. You can only play who is on the other side of the net and if a player chooses not to attend then that is their decision, no one else’s performances should be diminished. If anything, whoever wins, their achievement should be seen as a bigger deal due to all the additional pressures.
If you look at things that way, then Roger Federer should have an asterisk on his name because he did not face Rafa Nadal in the final the year he won Roland Garros. The Australian Chris O’Neill won the Australian Open in 1978, using the logic circulating would mean her effort is worth nothing. Many in the sport have already denigrated Margaret Court’s Australian titles using this type of thinking.
All that is nonsense. Just because some names decide not to play does not lessen the magnitude of the task at winning a major. You cannot pick and choose.
Of course, everyone wants to see the iconic names in action. The sport may ride on the biggest names, but the sport is bigger, much bigger, that the biggest names. If that is not the case, then why have a singles draw of 128 at the majors. We should just have Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Williams, and a few others playing. It is like a motion picture, you know Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks and you would likely see their movies, but cinema is more than just those two.
If the big guns don’t play it is a bit more of an opportunity for another player to shine and why shouldn’t they have that opportunity? Just look at the last three years of the US Open women’s, the winners were Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu.
The USTA has put forward their plan for health and safety and they will be maintaining strict protocols and with the vent being played behind closed doors there will be ample space. Prior to the US Open the Cincinnati Masters 1000 will also be played at the National Tennis Centre and there will be total compensation of $US60million.
Players will be accommodated at hotels near the airports which are not far from the venue; one of the hotels is the very new TWA Hotel which was once the TWA terminal at JFK Airport. Players can have access to two rooms, one will be paid for, the other will be at their own expense but players will also have the option to rent a private home outside Manhattan – the estimated cost to rent a home is $US40,000. There will be a shuttle to and from the site. The corporate suites will be private lounges for the top 32 seeds.
It also appears that players will be allowed to have up to three people with them, originally it was suggested there would be just one and that created an outcry from some top names.
There will be testing before a player arrives in the USA and then 1-2 tests per weeks with daily temperature checks during competition. Face masks will be required on site unless a player is in a match or practice and social distancing will be followed in all common areas.