Trying to stage the US Open without fans would be an empty gesture for Marin Cilic, who tasted career Grand Slam glory in New York six years ago.
Croatia’s No. 37 who had been hoping to make an injury comeback this season, has been forced – like the rest of the tennis world – to sit out the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has stopped sport cold.
The ATP and WTA shut down in March and will not resume until at least July 31; the US Open is determined to struggle against the odds to try and kick off on August 31 – fans or no fans.
That would certainly not got down a treat for Cilic, who beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori for his title at Flushing Meadows.
“I just feel that it’s going to more or less feel like practice matches,” Cilic told Reuters form his quarantine base at home.
“It’s always going to be … in the years to come, ‘oh, you know that guy won US Open in 2020 without fans’. I don’t think it’s going to have that weight…it wouldn’t be the best scenario.”
Tennis replies on international air travel as its lifeblood; With that mode of transport set to be extremely limited – along with shut-down international borders in many countries – the prospects for putting bums on seats for the hardcourt major look extremely dicey.
“Tennis season is slightly different than football, than basketball,” Cilic said.
“They have seasons to finish off, and the next season is depending on this season as well.
“For tennis, if we start in December or in January, it’s not going to change too much.”
He added: “I believe that there won’t be any tournaments without fans. The Tour revolves on sponsors and people coming to the tournaments.
“Sponsors are investing money because people are coming to watch tennis and see the players.”