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The United States Tennis Association has the support of the men’s and women’s tours to host the U.S. Open as scheduled, but without fans
In a normal year, the U.S. Open would be the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament. But the men’s and women’s tours have been shut down since March because of the public health crisis. The start of the French Open, normally the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, has been postponed until late September. Wimbledon, the oldest of the major tournaments, was canceled for the first time since 1945.
“Our team has literally worked around the clock to figure out a way we can have the U.S. Open and do it in a safe way,” Patrick Galbraith, the president of the U.S.T.A., said in a conference call with more than 400 men’s players and coaches on Wednesday.
There has been considerable resistance from international players to the centralized U.S. Open plan.
“Without having close social contact, we feel if one player gets it, it’s not going to spread,” Galbraith said in the conference call. “Our infectious disease specialists are confident on that. They are going to be pulled out of the environment, but you have to have close contact to get this.”
The 2020 US Open is set to be played in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on its originally scheduled dates of Aug. 31-Sept. 13
The US Open will feature the men’s and women’s singles main-draw events, each with the traditional 128 players, and men’s and women’s doubles events, with 32 teams in each competition (down from 64 teams). The Western & Southern Open will feature its traditional format in men’s and women’s singles, an increased draw of 48 for the men’s and women’s qualifying tournaments (up from 28 and 32, respectively), and an increased draw size of 32 teams for men’s and women’s doubles (up from 28 teams).
In hosting the two events, the USTA has committed $60 million in total compensation to players to ensure the events are financially viable for all competitors.
In addition to prize money and other compensation to athletes competing in the two events, the USTA has also made the decision to provide approximately $6.6 million in additional relief grants and subsidies due to the decision to not hold the Qualifying Tournament, and the reduction of the doubles draws. These funds will be allocated to the WTA and ATP, which will then make the determination of how to distribute these funds and/or utilize them to provide replacement playing and ranking-point opportunities. Previously in 2020, the USTA contributed $1 million to an international player relief fund.
With the formal health and safety plan approved and the financial details set, the USTA will embark on additional efforts to deliver all the on- and off-court action to fans at home, with groundbreaking digital access and intimacy. Further details of these plans will be announced in the near future.
As we collectively navigate this once-in-a-generation global crisis, the 2020 US Open promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. The annual celebration of tennis will not be muted at America's Grand Slam.