If the US Open goes ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic, draconian lockdown regulations may turn the Grand Slam into an American-only show.
That’s the fear from Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams, one of the few major names considered to be a dead cert for the troubled major due to begin on August 31.
While official confirmation of the event is due from organisers by the end of the week, high-profile defections look to be a fact of life thanks to European players almost certainly subject to 14-day quarantines at home once they return from North America.
That would mean no chance of playing the pre-Roland Garros Madrid and Rome tournament prior to the September 27 start on clay in Paris.
“If players cannot play Madrid and Rome and have to be quarantined that would mean they’re sitting in an apartment for two weeks right before playing a Grand Slam on clay which sounds a bit crazy,” Mouratoglou told Reuters.
Only US-based competitors would have a reasonable chance under current guidelines to play in New York at an event set to be wrapped in cotton wool with players restricted to either a hotel or the Flushing Meadows site.
The US leads the way in virus infections, with more than four million and at least 150,000 deaths,
But Mouratoglou remains convinced he has the solution. “I see that the situation in New York is getting better, much better, but it’s very much about travel restrictions.
“They’re a lot of questions that to me are unanswered at the moment. And that puts the U.S. Open really in doubt.”
The Frenchman added: “If the USTA is able to give proper answers to those questions, maybe the Open has a higher chance to be held.”
While Europeans – the majority on both the men’s and women’s Tours – have been the focus, the coach queried the fate of other nationalities.
“What about the South Americans? Are they now allowed to travel or not? What about the Australians? You can’t have a Grand Slam which is the national US championships, right?
“We have to know.”