U.S. Open tennis without fans an option, but ‘unlikely,’ USTA says

A final decision on whether or not the U.S. Open will be played this season will be made in June.

During a conference call with international media Thursday afternoon, Mike Dowse, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association, said they’re fortunate that the tournament is the fourth Grand Slam of the season.

“Time is on our side at this point,” Dowse said. “Obviously our ambition is to run the tournament.”

The tournament that takes place during the last week of August and first couple of weeks of September in Queens, N.Y. is one of the marquee events of the tennis season.

Dowse says at this point they don’t have enough information to make a decision on whether they can run the tournament safely.

“We’re using the timeline of June to make that decision,” Dowse said, adding an advisory group of doctors, officials and organizers are involved in the decision process. “Based on their information we’ll determine if it’s safe to go ahead with the tournament.”

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Dowse said playing the tournament without spectators is an option, “but it’s highly unlikely. That’s not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis.

“It also goes back to the health and well-being of not just the spectators. Unless the medical experts come up with solution that is fool-proof and safe, we don’t see that as an option.”

During the pandemic the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open takes place, has been used an emergency hospital complete with 350 beds.

Last year’s tournament provided a historic moment for Canada as teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu captured the women’s title.

On a brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-September in front of raucous capacity crowd, the 19-year-old from Mississauga defeated Serena Williams to become the first Canadian, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Her improbable run captured the hearts and minds of Canadians during the two weeks.

Andreescu began last year’s tennis season ranked 150th in the world. Her rise has been meteoric.

She broke through last season, winning her first title at the Indian Wells event in March. Then her stardom rocketed when she captured the Rogers Cup title in August after Williams retired in the championship match, setting up her historic win at the U.S. Open.

She reached as high as No. 4 in the WTA rankings — the best ever for a Canadian woman — but hasn’t played since October because of a knee injury and is currently No. 6.

Like all other sports, tennis has been deeply impacted by the pandemic.

The men’s and women’s tennis associations have cancelled the season, all events at all levels on both professional tours, through July 13.  

That same decision was made by the International Tennis Federation.

For the first time since the Second World War Wimbledon has been cancelled. The tournament had been scheduled to run from June 29 to July 12. Next year’s event will be held from June 28 to July 11.

The French Open, which was scheduled to be played from May 24 to June 7, announced in March that it will now be played from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, though that has sparked some backlash because the new dates fall just one week after the U.S. Open and during the same time as the Laver Cup.


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