Rift Grows Between USTA, Players After Announcement Of Monday U.S. Open Final
This week's "blowback" from the ATP Tour in response to the U.S. Open's switch to a Monday men's final "points to a growing rift between male players and the U.S. Tennis Association, which owns and runs the tournament," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. ATP Board Rep Justin Gimelstob yesterday said that he and other ATP leaders "were frustrated by the USTA's seemingly unilateral announcement Friday to extend the tournament to 15 days." The move "does not address the extra day of work or the long-standing pattern ... of playing the first round over three days instead of two." The ATP also wanted "a bigger increase in prize money than the record $4 million the USTA added." USTA Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said that the decision "to move the final to Monday should not have surprised anyone based on communication with the Tour and its top players in recent months." Robson notes by altering its schedule, the U.S. Open will "take a seven-figure hit in the form of a make-good payback to broadcast partner CBS." That deal "ends in 2014" (USA TODAY, 12/19). TENNIS.com's Peter Bodo wrote, "For years on end the serial controversies and steady drone of complaints affected the USTA not at all." Saturday at the U.S. Open "simply seemed like a cash cow with too big a bag to sell off." But five consecutive "Sunday men’s final rainouts has, no pun intended, diluted the original Super Saturday concept and made a mockery of the entire vibe." Bodo: "As well, keeping the players on tenterhooks through rainy Saturdays and Sundays, with so little wiggle room in the schedule, filled them with resentment and justified concern about their health, right down to the fear that the tournament organizers would force them to play on unsafe, slick courts just to get matches done on time -- and thereby avoid lost streams of revenue." Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray in '11 "confronted tournament referee Brian Earley and charged that they were being ordered to go out and play under 'unsafe' conditions." The confrontation "marked the beginning of the end of Super Saturday as we knew it" (TENNIS.com, 12/18).