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U.S. Open Tennis Plans To Proceed As Scheduled… But Who Will Attend?

By Ricky Dimon

It looks like tennis–the actual tours, not just popup exhibition events–will continue in 2020. With other major sports returning throughout the world, the ATP and WTA tours obviously don’t want to get left behind.

And the USTA doesn’t want to, either.

The combination of those factors has resulted in the USTA maintaining hope that the U.S. Open and other American-based tournaments will proceed this year. Tennis executives have been meeting on the 15th of every month, and until now those discussions have brought about nothing but cancellations. On June 15, however, there were finally no more axes brought down. It was announced on Monday that the U.S. Open at New York’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center still has the green light.

“We’re ready to move forward as long as we get all the approvals we need,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier assured. “At the end of the day, there are three factors involved in the decision-making. No. 1 is creating a plan that has health and safety at the forefront; No. 2 is whether conducting the U.S. Open is the right thing for the sport of tennis; and No. 3 is whether it can be done in a financially viable manner. We believe we can hit all three of the objectives. But we do need to approach this in a step-by-step manner, and when all of the steps are completed, that is when we can make an official announcement.”

An official announcement could come on Wednesday along with the proposed schedule for the remainder of the 2020 season. The current plan is for the Cincinnati Masters to take place in New York at the exact same location as the U.S. Open, so that players can stay in a “bubble” for three weeks. That would allow the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. to assume Cincinnati’s previous spot on the calendar and begin on Aug. 16. The French Open is scheduled to begin one week after the U.S. Open ends, from late September to early October.

All of this remains a question mark right now, but Monday’s announcement at least offers some hope.

“Our stated goal has been that, if we could build a plan in conjunction with medical and security experts that mitigated the risks of COVID-19 and assured the health and well-being of all U.S. Open participants, we very much want to move ahead with the tournament,” Widmaier concluded. “We believe, by working in the collaborative manner with these experts and the two tours, we have such a plan.”

It remains to be seen if all the players will be on board with that plan. Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty are among the skeptical ones.

“Most of the players I have talked to were quite negative on whether they would go there,” Djokovic noted.

“I have concerns, too,” Barty wrote in an e-mail. “I understand the tournaments are eager to run, but keeping everyone safe has to be the priority.”

Players and fans alike seem to be griping about the likelihood of the U.S. Open happening. The solution, however, is simple. If you don’t want to play, then don’t play. If you don’t want to watch, then don’t watch. Basically every other sport in the world has either already returned or is returning in the near future, so tennis should be no exception. With no fans attending, there is reason to believe tournaments can be held safely.

Heck, Djokovic’s own Adria Tour began last weekend and 4,000 fans in Belgrade sat elbow to elbow for two straight days!

Tennis is already back, and the U.S. Open isn’t about to get left out of the party.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • Halep won’t travel to NYC or Asia.

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