New York (AP) – The largest tennis stadium in the world without fans, the professionals in a so-called bubble – and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal not even there. The most unusual US Open in tennis history kicks off Monday.
Under what conditions does the US Open take place?
A few weeks ago, hardly anyone thought they would happen at all. After all, the number of infections in the US is still high and New York is now a hotspot of the pandemic. And then on the tennis court in Flushing Meadows, which was a temporary infirmary. But the American association USTA absolutely wanted to keep the tournament – also for financial reasons of course. Spectators are not allowed.
Matches without fans in the largest tennis stadium in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium, become an unknown sight. But under strict hygiene and safety measures, the event should kick off Monday – like the second Grand Slam 2020 after the Australian Open, the Wimbledon cancelation and the postponement of the French Open to September.
How is the life of the professionals during the 14-day event?
During a press conference for almost an hour, those responsible last informed about the extensive measures in the so-called bubble. He sees the greatest risk in the fact that the players do not obey the rules of distance, warned Dr. Bernard Camins, the USTA expert. The players and their companions are isolated in hotels near the airport and at the facility and are only allowed to interact more closely with other people in this bubble. Even the players who have chosen a private house for their accommodation are not allowed to receive guests who do not belong to the bubble. Cleaning staff may only enter the house if no player or supervisor is present.
What other specific requirements are there?
The professionals receive their accreditation, which means that they only come to the system after a negative corona test result. A second test is required 48 hours after the first test, then it is tested every four days. Anyone who is positive should be quarantined and removed from the tournament. The trips to Manhattan that are so popular with many are taboo. “You can’t go to Manhattan, but we’ll bring Manhattan to you,” said tournament director Stacey Allaster.
Entertainment is still provided. There are gyms, an arcade, a golf simulator and more, she said last. “The organizers have done a great job. I expected it to get a lot worse,” said Davis Cup professional Jan-Lennard Struff. Especially the garden is beautiful.
Who is missing from the top stars in the industry?
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the most prominent names missing. The Swiss Federer has already ended his season after knee surgery, Nadal recently announced his abandonment. In addition, French Gael Monfils is missing in the top ten of the world rankings. The picture for women is completely different: six of the top ten players do not participate: world number one Ashleigh Barty (Australia), number two Simona Halep (Romania), defending champion Bianca Andreescu (Canada), Jelina Switolina (Ukraine) ), Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) and Belinda Bencic (Switzerland).
Which of the Germans is there?
The two top riders Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev are participating, but the German number two Julia Görges and Andrea Petkovic did not fly to the US. Zverev last participated in the Masters tournament, which was moved from Cincinnati to New York, but immediately lost to former Wimbledon winner Andy Murray.
“I think when the US Open starts, everyone should play their best tennis and I hope that will be the case for me too,” said the 23-year-old from Hamburg. Kerber didn’t fight show fights during the long mandatory Corona hiatus and therefore said, “That’s why I don’t have too high expectations, but look forward to the challenge of finally being able to play matches again.” There are a total of five German women and five men.
Who are the favorites?
Among the men, the world’s number one Novak Djokovic is not only the absolute top favorite since the cancellations of Nadal and Federer. The Serb is aiming for his 18th Grand Slam triumph. The forecasts for women are much more difficult. Exceptional athlete Serena Williams wants to know again, but recently lost since her comeback early in the prep tournaments. The Czech Karolina Pliskova is number one. Naomi Osaka, who won in New York in 2018 and reached the final of the preliminary tournament that moved from Cincinnati to New York, was in shape.
Are more protests to be expected?
Osaka made headlines with their announced distance from the semifinals at the Masters event. In protest against racism and police violence in the US, the Japanese did not want to play. The result: all semifinals were postponed by one day. The topic will certainly also play a role during the US Open. How much depends on further developments in the US.
Where can you watch the US Open?
As in previous years, the US Open can be seen on Eurosport. The matches start at 11 a.m. local time (5 p.m. CEST), the so-called night session starts at 7 p.m. (1 a.m. CEST). According to its own information, the station broadcasts “more than 300 hours of live tennis on the TV channels Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 and in Eurosport Player”.
After the Tour de France, Eurosport 1 will start the tournament day on free TV around 5.30 pm. Boris Becker and Barbara Rittner are back on duty as experts. However, the Eurosport crew is not on site in New York, but broadcasts from Munich.