Both Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have voiced their disapproval at being sent out to play in damp conditions at the US Open on Wednesday as officials rushed to make up for lost time in rain delays.
After all play was cancelled on Tuesday because of downpours in New York, United States Tennis Association (USTA) officials hoped to continue as normal yesterday. But after play was again halted for 90 minutes before the rain began to subside, some of the stars who were supposed to be in action on Tuesday were sent out to begin their matches.
After just 16 minutes, play was again halted and players had to return to the locker rooms before a later decision was made to cancel all of Wednesday’s action too when players emerged for the night session but were unable to complete their warm-up.
“It’s dangerous, the lines get really slippy,” a disgruntled Murray told ESPN. “Players want to play more than anyone, but not when it’s dangerous.”
Nadal reinforced Murray’s stance, claiming that the profit margins were considered more important than the health of the players competing. “Grand Slams [are] about a lot of money. We’re part of the show,” the defending champion said. “They’re just working for that, not for us. They know it’s still raining and call us onto the court. That’s not possible.
“I understand the fans want to see tennis but the health of the players is the most important and we do not feel protected. We want to feel good when we are playing a tournament and we cannot accept these things.
“We have to fight to change things, to have enough power that we don’t have to go on court when it’s raining. If I have to go on court, I’ll go on court, but I don’t think it’s fair.”
When the snippets of play were halted, Murray trailed American youngster Donald Young 2-1 on serve in the first set on the Grandstand Court, Andy Roddick led fifth seed David Ferrer 3-1 on Armstrong, and Nadal’s mood won’t have been helped by the fact he was trailing 3-0 to Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller on Arthur Ashe.
The weather situation has also re-opened the debate over whether the Billie Jean King Tennis Centre should follow the lead of the All England Tennis Club at Wimbledon by putting a roof over its showpiece arena.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, USTA board member Jeff Tarango suggested that this would be the case, saying: “It’s called the ‘strategic vision’ and the plans will be showcased and unleashed very shortly.
“We had a quote for rebuilding that just got doubled on us,” he continued. “We have a very good strategic plan for getting the roof. It’s a really tough decision but it is in place and all the money is being secured, saved up and taken care of.”
But a USTA statement contradicted this, saying: “The USTA disavows the statements made by USTA board member Jeff Tarango to BBC Radio regarding plans for the demolition of Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“There has been no scenario discussed that includes the demolition of Arthur Ashe Stadium and any talk about the future of Louis Armstrong Stadium at this point is both premature and inaccurate.”