Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

USTA Calls Tennis 'The Ideal Social Distancing Sport' After US Open Plans Are Approved

The US Open will go ahead as planned without spectators beginning in August, with the USTA confident strict guidelines can be enforced

Danielle Collins serves during a tennis match. Courtesy: Twitter (@usta)

The US Open can showcase tennis as "the ideal social distancing sport", United States Tennis Association (USTA) CEO Mike Dowse said after plans to stage the grand slam were approved.

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New York governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed on Tuesday the tournament will go ahead behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows from August 31 to September 13.

Dowse described the USTA as "incredibly excited" after the green light was given for the hard-court major and the Western and Southern Open to be held at  the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The ATP and WTA Tours have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no competitions taking place until at least the end of July.

Wimbledon was postponed for 2020, while the French Open was controversially rescheduled to begin a week after the US Open ends.

Cuomo stated the USTA "will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation".

And Dowse is optimistic the US Open will prove elite sport can be played in a safe environment.

"We are incredibly excited that Governor Cuomo and New York State have approved our plan to host the 2020 US Open and 2020 Western and Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center," he said in a statement.

"We recognise the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks.

"We now can give fans around the world the chance to watch tennis’ top athletes compete for a US Open title, and we can showcase tennis as the ideal social distancing sport.

"Being able to hold these events in 2020 is a boost for the City of New York and the entire tennis landscape. We will have more details and an official announcement [on Wednesday]."

Several prominent players have voiced concerns about the staging of the tournament, with ATP Tour world number one Novak Djokovic, describing the restrictions potentially set to be placed on players - including having just one member of support staff allowed at Flushing Meadows - as "extreme and impossible".

Rafael Nadal has also expressed his misgivings, as have Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and WTA Tour number one Ashleigh Barty.

Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou indicated she would be happy to play, while Feliciano Lopez described Andy Murray as being "pumped" about the prospect of playing in the grand slam.


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