The decision on whether to stage the US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be made before June, officials said on Thursday.
USTA CEO Mike Dowse confirmed in a conference call that the brashest of the four Grand Slams will decide at the last minute whether the event slated to begin on August 31 can go ahead.
New York – and specifically the tournament’s home in Queens – is the epicentre of the virus in New York, which is itself the hotbed of American infections.
“Time is on our side at this point,,” Dowse, who said doctors will be involved in helping to make the go-no go call, said.
“Obviously our ambition is to run the tournament.”
The new executive added: “Things are fluid. If the medical experts come back and say here is a foolproof way of running a very safe tournament, unfortunately it has to be without fans, we may reconsider and look at it at this point.
“Today it’s just too early to kind of speculate on what the exact specifics will be at that time.”
With Wimbledon cancelled and the French Open now hoping to play in Paris from September 20 – a week after the scheduled end of play in New York – the entire tennis schedule is a work in progress.
Dowse said that going ahead behind closed doors without fans – around 750,000 attended in 2019 – is unlikely.
“Playing without spectators, we’re not taking anything off the table right now, but to be honest and open, I think that’s highly unlikely.
“That’s not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis. It also goes back to the health and wellbeing of not just the spectators but of our players and support staff that help run the tournament.”
An indoors practice building on site in Flushing Meadows is currently being used as an overflow hospital for virus patients.