Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the game’s two leading players at a time when male tennis has never had a better profile are many things. But unquestionably the Serb and the Spaniard are traditionalists and united in the belief they should have played the US Open yesterday rather later today on Monday.
Of course Monday finals are nothing new at Flushing Meadows after inclement weather has caused the men’s final to be pushed back a day for the last four years. This year the Monday final is scheduled after players’ demands prevailed and the US Open stepped in line with the other three majors in giving both finalists at least a day’s rest between semi and final.
Both Djokovic and Nadal see that as right and proper but they struggle to understand why the last Grand Slam of the year cannot replicate the other three and have the semi-finals completed by Friday evening.
“To be honest, I’m not in support of Monday final,” said Djokovic. “Hopefully we can have the Friday/Sunday like in every other Grand Slam.
“It’s just an ongoing subject with US Open and with people who are in organization here. I don’t see why the US Open should get an exception. Scheduling is definitely something that we have to make right, because I think opinions of the players should be respected more.”
Nadal agreed with his opponent. “I like to finish the tournaments on Sunday, not on Monday,” he said. “But for sure it is more fair to finish on Monday, having one day off between semifinals and final, than play semifinals Saturday and final Sunday.”
After the final, both Djokovic and Nadal will face a rush to jet back to Europe to represent their respective countries in the Davis Cup in just four days’ time. Djokovic heads to Belgrade where Serbia host Canada in the World Group semi-final while Nadal is destined for Madrid where Spain are at home to the Ukraine and the World Group Play-Offs.
“Monday finals don’t go in the favor of the players who are playing Davis Cup, said Djokovic. “And I have been playing Davis Cup semifinals for last few years. Now I have to play for my country again, which makes it much more difficult for me.”
“It’s a different continent, different time zone, it’s clay indoors. I got injured already few times like this, and it’s something that doesn’t make me happy.”
The US Open organizers and CBS television schedulers doubly angered Djokovic by demanding his semi-final against Stanislas Wawrinka was played first with a mid-day start even though he played his previous match a day later than Nadal and Richard Gasquet won their respective quarter finals.
Djokovic complained: “I didn’t find it very fair to play at 12:00 noon the first match after I went to bed at 3:00 a.m. two days ago after my quarterfinals, while the other semifinalists had three days off.
“ I didn’t find any logic in that, to be honest. But, again I guess there are some other influences that have more power than players. This has to be changed.”