USTA Pushes U.S. Open Men's Final To Monday For The Fourth Straight Year
The USTA has pushed the U.S. Open men's final from Sunday to Monday for the fourth consecutive year because of weather-related delays throughout the past week. The men’s semifinals will remain as scheduled on Saturday, but the women’s semifinals originally set for Friday will be rescheduled for Saturday night. As a result, the women’s final will shift from Saturday to Sunday at 4:00pm ET, and the men's final is rescheduled for Monday at the same time (THE DAILY). In N.Y., Wayne Coffey notes Tournament Dir Jim Curley spoke to WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster and met with ATP Exec Chair & President Adam Helfant, who “expressed how concerned the players were about having to play up to four rounds in four days.” Curley also “learned there was a number of unhappy ticket-buying customers who had paid to see prime late-tournament matches and saw nothing.” Curley late Wednesday and all day Thursday “met with CBS and explained the situation, while he and his staff had meetings with everyone from the NYPD to tournament vendors and operations personnel, clearing the way for the Open to be extended to Monday.” Once CBS was “on board and the logistics were in place, the schedule was changed, basically adding an extra session” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/9). In N.Y., George Vecsey notes the “star male players more or less shamed officials into extending the weather-plagued Open to Monday, rather than forcing them to play four consecutive days” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9).
MAKING THE RIGHT CALL? ESPN's John McEnroe said called the move to push back the finals "an outstanding, outstanding decision." McEnroe: "The players got together, showed they had some cajones ... and then the USTA went and listened and thought about this. This is going to be a lot better for the tournament" ("U.S. Open," ESPN2, 9/8).YAHOO SPORTS’ Chris Chase wrote moving the men's final “was unquestionably the right move by the USTA.” TV interests “are paramount, but not enough to force whichever man comes out of the bottom of the draw … to play four best-of-five matches in four consecutive days.” Less clear is “why the women's final had to be moved from Saturday night.” Chase: “If anything, the women may have gotten a raw deal” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/8). The women's semifinals will begin Saturday night at 6:00pm ET, and SI.com’s Courtney Nguyen wrote, "The winners will have to turn around to play a 4 p.m. final the next day. Really, that seems a bit much” (SI.com, 9/8). Novak Djokovic “criticised the decision to stage the US Open final on Monday for a fourth successive year, claiming it will impact next weekend's Davis Cup programme.” If Djokovic reaches the men's final, he will “then dash to Belgrade to play” for Serbia in its Davis Cup match against Argentina starting on Friday. Djokovic said, "I'm not really happy about that, to be honest. I'm not, because there is always Davis Cup the weekend after. Last year I played finals and finished very late on Monday. Took off Tuesday, arrived Wednesday, and had to play on Friday already, Saturday. How that is possible? It's just too much" (AFP, 9/9). Roger Federer said the traditional Saturday/Sunday schedule for the men's semifinals and finals "is just not feasible." Federer: "I'm sure that there have been many finals played here where one player had a huge advantage and I don't think that should be happening before such a huge match here" (L.A. TIMES, 9/9).
FRUSTRATION MOUNTING: In N.Y., Greg Bishop notes Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray on Thursday "used their news conferences to blast the tournament, its schedule and their general lack of input into decision-making." Nadal said, “We need to have the right representation in these tournaments. Things like this cannot happen.” Murray “declared that commercial interests trumped player well-being at Grand Slams.” Murray's fourth-round match started Wednesday and finished Thursday, but he said that an ATP Tour manager "advised players that they ‘shouldn’t go out there and play.’” Murray: “Because we have the ATP and the ITF, and they don’t like each other very much, there’s always going to be some issues.” Djokovic said, “The fact is the players feel frustrated. The players feel they’re not protected. This is maybe a turning point for all of us. It was coming for many years.” While Roddick, who moved his fourth-round match from Louis Armstrong Stadium to Court 13 Thursday due to a rain-related issue on the court, “shared his colleagues’ political sentiments and Thursday pulpit, he also splashed cold water on the idea that anything would change any time soon.” Roddick: “Until we unite, it doesn’t matter. People can call our bluff. I have been trying to tell people that talent normally wins in negotiations. If Bono doesn’t want to go on tour, it falls apart. But until we unite as one voice, we’re not going to get what we want.” Bishop notes the women “seemed less frustrated than the men, with both the schedule and the delays.” Samantha Stosur said, “That can be a problem in general. I mean, obviously we need TV. We need everything that goes along with these kinds of events. Sometimes, you know, a little more consideration could be done” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9).
TOGETHER WE STAND: Nadal, Murray and Roddick expressed "frustration that players don't have a bigger voice in scheduling decisions -- particularly those that relate to safety and fair play." But in DC, Liz Clarke writes “That has always been a problem since the sport started making money: convincing highly competitive tennis players that their interests are best served through collective action.” Roddick: “It's a star-driven sport." He said you "have to get the stars on the same page” to effect change (WASHINGTON POST, 9/9). FOXSPORTS.com’s Greg Couch wrote players like Nadal, Murray and Roddick speaking out in unison “was important.” Couch: "The players were right. And it’s a much bigger issue than the player mini-revolt suggested. It might be a turning-point moment in tennis. It might be, but I doubt it.” Couch added, “Tennis needs a commissioner. Tennis players need a union. ... And lack of representation is jeopardizing them in an even bigger way” (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/8).
DJOKOVIC CHIMES IN: Djokovic was asked about players forming a type of union, and he replied, "I definitely support the players’ standpoint of view. It’s definitely frustrating not to have protection from the side of the people who are supposed to represent us within these tournaments." Djokovic: "Everybody is coming here, mostly for the top players. They’re paying tickets, they want to see them play, but health of the players is a priority in all the cases. In my opinion, players should definitely have a much stronger voice out there. Maybe this is a turning point for us. Maybe we’re going to form a union, maybe not. We’re going to discuss the further actions, definitely.” He added, "The present leadership of the ATP was better than the past one. I’m not for a long time on the tour, but I have to give credit for the guys who are doing their job. But the problem there is that every time that we need to get into the discussions -- especially with the Grand Slams -- we hit the wall. Why? The explanation is always the same: The ATP does not have anything in organization of the Grand Slam events. ... There’s too many federations, too many groups, too many people. It’s just too many things going on" ("U.S. Open," ESPN2, 9/8).