Trying to stage the US Open in the world’s worst-hit COVID-19 hotspot is proving to be a tough sell to some major European players.
If it goes ahead – a final decision is now due in early August – tough lockdown condition, the absence of live fans and media will all combine to make for a low-key event in the best scenario.
Swiss Belinda Bencic, the WTA No. 8, is one who could easily give North America a big miss this season as the pandemic rages in the US.
“It’s logical that currently no normal person wants to travel to the USA,” Bencic told the Aargauer Zeitung.
“I would also prefer to stay in Europe. On the other hand, the organisers guarantee that we are safe in this (quarantine) bubble. We would not be outside in America, only in the hotel room and on the tennis court.
“I’m thinking about the conditions under which the game is played and whether it is worth it to me.”
The Open is due to make its scheduled start on August 31 in New York, with the Cincinnati Masters shifted from the Midwest the week before the Open kick-off inside the protective “health bubble” organisers hope to throw up for a three-week span.
“I will decide everything at very short notice,” Bencic, an Open semi-finalist last year, added .
A decision to extend the traditional one-year ranking period for the ATP and WTA means that players can hang onto their results at many tournaments for a second year, to the end of December.
That perhaps makes the travelling decision easier as little could be gained in terms of points, the lifeblood of the sport.
“I would only gain points if I won a final or a tournament,” Bencic said. “I can’t lose anything.
“So I have no pressure to play in New York. This gives you the freedom to look after your health and safety to decide.”