US OPEN CLOSED
COVID-19 and controversy over a players’ union have already had an impact on the US Open tennis tournament, making it one of the strangest in the history of the game.
While many of the major players will be at the US Open, a number of top seeds are unable to attend due to health and travel worries. Most notable are Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, who won the men’s and women’s titles last year, along with the ladies world number one Ashleigh Barty, and Roger Federer, who has had knee surgery.
Andy Murray, who returns to the game after a long recovery from injury, has said that he expects the experience to be “weird”. He has not played in a major tournament since the Australian Open in 2019, so walking onto a court without any fans will be very different.
Serena Williams, who will be taking part, thinks the unusual circumstances mean the tournament will always be remembered, but she hopes that it will not devalue it. “If you win, it will be like: ‘Wow, I was able to win in this crazy circumstance where there was no fans. It was just so sterile and weird, but I mentally came through’,” she said.
Despite all the players being in a tournament bubble, French player Benoît Paire tested positive for COVID-19 before the first match was played and withdrew from the tournament. He has had to isolate for ten days, and to date no other cases have been discovered.
In addition Novak Djokovic, who is also playing, resigned as president of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Up to 70 other male professionals support him and propose to start a players’ union, but other major players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are not yet committed. It has caused some friction in the locker rooms already and it is not clear whether women, who have their own separate association, will be invited to join the new organisation if it goes ahead.
The US Open is on until 13 September.
Britain’s Johanna Konta is seeded number nine in the US Open