He may not be playing the event as he continues rehab from a summer knee procedure, but Roger Federer certainly knows more than most about the COVID-19 fate of the US Open.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion told Swiss media that he spoke at the weekend with American organisers who are trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat by staging their Grand Slam as the worst of the virus pandemic rages in the US with all trends pointing negative.
“I was in touch with the US Open.They told me they will decide between 15-30 July about what will happen,” the 38-year-old said,
“These are uncertain times for tennis. Travelling and quarantine are big problems.”
Federer won’t be back on court until 2021 after two medical procedures on his knee this aborted season. But he is planning to step up his physical work to get back into tournament shape by January.
“I’m looking forward to a 20-week Kondi (conditioning) block (with longtime trainer Pierre Paganini) , but I’m ready for it.”
Faced with what could be a massive loss of television revenue not to mention a humiliating climbdown after trumpeting their plans to stage their major at all costs, Open officials in New York have around three weeks to come up with their go/no go decision.
If it manages to be staged, the event will likely be missing many big names, with quarantine laws now in place on both sides of the Atlantic which would effectively prevent players from competing both in the Open starting August 31 and the September 28 kickoff of the French Open.
Open officials have vowed to keep competitors in a tight health bubble, with no linesmen, minimal “ball adults” and no media or fans.
Federer comes up looking like a visionary after undergoing two knee procedures during a year in which tennis barely existed.
The sport has been shut down since March and is hoping that conditions will improve enough for an August re-start.
But with the health situation in free-for-all America going from bad to worse, plans to re-ignite the season in Washington, D.C, followed by a month in New York – the Cincinnati Masters will be played there – are looking extremely dicey at best.
Federer also expressed surprise that Roland Garros organisers are planning to allow half-strength crowds of around 20,000 fans into the grounds in the autumn for the delayed staging of the clay classic. He called it “incredible that Roland Garros plans to have 20,000 spectators per day”