It is looking increasingly possible that the only Grand Slam to be played in 2020 could be the already enacted Australian Open.
With the haves and have nots of the ATP and WTA seemingly at loggerheads over the anti-covid precautions insisted on by the USTA in order for their event to take place on schedule on 31 August in the pandemic hot bed of New York and the cloud hanging over the French Open’s bold move from Paris in the spring to a proposed autumn date, time is running out.
As next Monday’s US Open deadline approaches like an express train, Patrick Galbraith President of the cash strapped USTA has been busy video hosting conferences with all interested parties, including 400 ATP and WTA players, coaches and stakeholders.
The major stumbling block for elite of both the Men’s and Women’s game is the prospect of spending up to four weeks in the comparatively modest TWA hotel close to JFK airport with just one member of their normal “travelling circus” for company. Novak Djokovic has led the protest most vociferously against being imprisoned in “the bubble’ with Rafa Nadal, Simona Halep and Nick Kyrgios not far behind.
If Galbraith cannot convince enough of the top rank to fall in with his plans by the weekend, the USTA will consider the possibility of moving the hardcourt open out of state. Indian Wells, one of the first casualties of COVID 19 when losing it’s Masters 1000 event in March, was initially thought to be a safe option in November, but that idea has all but dissipated with a recent surge of reported cases of the pandemic in California.
According to the Spanish Sports Daily “Marca” a WhatsApp group poll of 100 top players shows little enthusiasm for “travelling to New York and then being locked up for a month”
WTA World number 2 Simona Halep told the New York Times “It’s important to understand that everyone has individual needs and circumstances, and we should do what’s best for our personal health and also think long term about our career.”
The recently installed first ever female chief of the USTA, Canadian Stacey Allaster has been left holding a poisoned financial chalice early in her reign.
All she and her colleagues can do now is pray for a dramatic change for the better in the stranglehold COVID 19 has on sport worldwide .