Mur­ray and Skup­ski exit Sal­is­bury left fly­ing flag

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Us Open -

Bri­tish hopes at the US Open rest on Jay Sal­is­bury’s shoul­ders in the men’s dou­bles, af­ter his com­pa­tri­ots Jamie Mur­ray and Neal Skup­ski lost in straight sets in their quar­ter-fi­nal. Mur­ray’s for­mer dou­bles part­ner Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic out­mus­cled them 6-2 7-6. Sal­is­bury and his part­ner, Amer­i­can Ra­jeev Ram, play their semi-fi­nal to­day against Nikola Mek­tic and Wes­ley Kool­hof.

Af­ter bat­tling to qual­ify for her 16th US Open quar­ter-fi­nal last night, Ser­ena Wil­liams threw doubt on whether she would play at Roland Gar­ros later this month, cit­ing wor­ries about the or­gan­is­ers’ plans to host a crowd.

Last month the 23-time grand slam cham­pion said she def­i­nitely saw her­self com­pet­ing at the French ma­jor if it went ahead, but fol­low­ing up­dates to pro­to­cols in re­cent days, Wil­liams was less sure.

Due to more flex­i­ble con­di­tions at the US Open, Wil­liams is stay­ing at a pri­vate home in New York, while fork­ing out for 24-hour se­cu­rity to make sure she does not leave her biose­cure bub­ble. But it was an­nounced on Sun­day that the French Open – which starts on Sept 21 – would take a stricter ap­proach, with all play­ers re­quired to stay in one of two tour­na­ment ho­tels.

“I was hop­ing to stay at my apart­ment in Paris, but I’m just tak­ing it a day at a time,” Wil­liams said af­ter her fourth-round win over Greek No 1 Maria Sakkari last night, de­clin­ing to give a de­fin­i­tive an­swer as to whether she would play. “[The or­gan­is­ers] are do­ing the best that they can. So I can’t point fin­gers.”

When it was pointed out to her that the French Open had still not ruled out host­ing fans at 60 per cent ca­pac­ity though, Wil­liams be­came more con­cerned – cit­ing her re­duced lung ca­pac­ity which puts her in a higher risk cat­e­gory when it comes to coro­n­avirus.

“If there are fans, then we should be able to stay else­where,” she said. “I’m su­per con­ser­va­tive be­cause I do have some se­ri­ous health is­sues, so I try to stay away from pub­lic places, be­cause I have been in a re­ally bad po­si­tion in the hospi­tal a few times.

“I’m go­ing to have to make the best de­ci­sion for my health. Maybe it will be good for me to talk to the or­gan­is­ers just to see how that works with the crowd and how we will be pro­tected. But I think it should be OK … I don’t know what the num­ber [of spec­ta­tors] will be and how close they will be. I still have some ques­tions, but I’m re­ally, iron­i­cally, fo­cused on New York. It’s hard be­cause th­ese grand slams are so close to each other this year.”

Sakkari also voiced doubts, say­ing “it doesn’t make sense to have fans and have us in a bub­ble”, while Bri­tish dou­bles player Jamie Mur­ray echoed the wor­ries af­ter his and Neal Skup­ski’s quar­ter-fi­nal loss: “It in­creases the chances of play­ers pick­ing stuff up if they are in or around mem­bers of the pub­lic … Hav­ing been here and seen how much of a lock­down it was, you feel safe. The thought of go­ing in to play

Full power: Ser­ena Wil­liams serves on her way to a three-set win against Maria Sakkari, of Greece

Molly McEl­wee with mem­bers of the pub­lic, how do they man­age that?”

Coro­n­avirus cases are spik­ing in Paris, and on Sun­day French Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Bernard Gi­u­di­celli said that it was “too early to say” whether any fans would be al­lowed. Hearing Wil­liams’s thoughts may prove a fac­tor in their de­ci­sion­mak­ing, es­pe­cially if she wins her record-equalling 24th grand slam ti­tle in New York, which she re­mains on track to do de­spite a tough chal­lenge from Sakkari last night.

When Wil­liams lost to the Greek No1 13 days ago at the Western and South­ern Open, she de­scribed her grow­ing in­abil­ity to close out matches as “like dat­ing a guy that you know sucks”. Yes­ter­day, at Arthur Ashe Sta­dium against the same op­po­nent, she def­i­nitely dumped him – but the 38-year-old had to re­cover from a break down in the third set to get the win, in what was a mes­meris­ing and phys­i­cal fourthroun­d tie.

“Thank God I got rid of that guy,” she joked af­ter the 6-3 6-7, 6-3 vic­tory. “Never want to see him again. He was the worst.”

She will need to re­cover from the 2hr 27min three-set­ter, her sec­ond in a row at the tour­na­ment, for her quar­ter-fi­nal to­mor­row, in which she plays Bul­garia’s Tsve­tana Pironkova.

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