Rain Embarrasses US Open

One full day of play lost due to rain is still bearable, but when play rained out today it gets a bit frustrating. After play rained out completely on Tuesday, yesterday there were only a few minutes of play of men’s fourth round action. We are heading into Thursday and the men’s fourth round has not been completed yet. This means the bottom half will have to play four five set matches in four days. And that is if there isn’t more rain, which is highly unlikely. Rain has been forecast until Saturday, although the weather is supposed to improve every day. I mean this is getting embarrassing for the USTA. When will the US Open get a roof? The Australian Open already have two retractable roofs, and they are planning to build a third one soon. Wimbledon now has a roof on center court. The only other slam that doesn’t have a roof is the French Open.

The roof is not such a big issue in Paris though as the surface doesn’t get slippery from rain and there seems to be less rain in Paris than New York. Today when the men’s fourth round matches were brought out there was complaints that the courts were not completely dry yet, to the point that Nadal, Murray, and Roddick made an official complaint about it to the organizers. The problem with building a roof at the US Open is that Arthur Ashe stadium is so massive. It is estimated that building a roof over the stadium will cost around $200 million. Clearly bigger is not always better, as Americans seem to believe. Whether they are going to rebuild Ashe stadium or put roofs over Grandstand or Armstrong, something has to be done. I think three out of the last five US Opens has been rain interrupted to the point that the final had to be played on Monday.

Then there is the scheduling issue. The US Open is the only slam where the semis and final are played on two consecutive days, which is a disadvantage to the winner of the second semi-final since he has less time to recover. This is of course all motivated by money, because on Saturday people don’t work as much and thus more people can watch the tennis. They call it ‘Super Saturday’, but I prefer to call it ‘Stupid Saturday’. It is no wonder players like Nadal complains that the players don’t feel protected. It seems to be all about the money while the players come a distant second. Can you imagine how tired the players will get from having to play four five set matches in four days, not to mention injuries it can cause? Without at least one day of rest somewhere the level of the players won’t be the same either.

The top half of the draw now clearly has an advantage, which includes Roger of course. Roger’s quarter final match against Tsonga is now scheduled for tonight on Ashe again. If he gets to finish his match and win, then he will have Friday off. I think it is good that Roger is scheduled to play at night again, but I doubt it he will play. The forecast is only slightly better for today, with things clearing up somewhat in the evening. And since Roger is the last match I doubt he will play. This means he could potentially have to play three days in a row. But whatever happens now the top half of the draw has an advantage. This isn’t necessarily that bad since I think the winner is going to come from the top half anyway. I think the winner will be either Roger or Djokovic. Whoever makes the final from the bottom half is probably not the favorite to win.

Nadal has not been in good form of late and Murray is a choker in slam finals. So I think the winner will be decided in the top half. Djokovic is not losing to Nadal or Murray and Roger neither if he gets past Djokovic. I think in a Fedal final Roger would still be the slight favorite. Personally I don’t think Nadal will make the final, but if he does then it will be an ideal opportunity for Roger to get a win over him in a slam final. But to get back to the post topic, rain has clearly wreaked havoc with the US Open schedule. They simply have to get a roof. In the mean time Jim Curly, the tournament director, have said that they intended to finish the tournament on time, and that he did not rule out playing two rounds in one day to finish on time:

Jim Curley, the Open’s tournament director, said that officials intended to finish the tournament on time. If the men’s fourth-round matches finish Thursday, he said, such a time frame remains realistic.

Curley did not rule out having either the men or women play twice in the same day — unthinkable as that might be. He also said men’s matches would remain best-of-five-sets, even if they play four matches in four days.

“It’s fair for all the players,” he said. “They’re all in the same situation. I don’t think it’s a safety issue. I think it’s a fitness issue.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/sports/tennis/us-open-the-matches-pile-up-as-rain-wins-again.html?_r=1&ref=sports

WTF??? Two five set matches in one day? This tournament has become a farce. I don’t know how on earth they want to finish the tournament on time. They just can’t let the players play four days in a row, never mind two rounds in one day. The situation has become an embarrassment to the so called greatest city in the world. The US Open is fast becoming the worst slam in the world. I don’t know what they are gonna do but it is clear that something has to be done. Maybe they will finally wake up if it rains for the next three days as well. No one is happy. Us the viewers are unhappy because this is one of our favorite times to watch tennis in the year, and the situation leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth. The players are not happy because they have to wait around all day to get on court and they don’t feel protected.

I don’t know much about the business side of things but I am sure the TV channels are not happy with this either. I really hope that the USTA finally wakes up after this year’s disaster and do something.

OOPhttp://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/index.html?promo=subnav

Roger Federer

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22 Comments

  1. Nice piece, Ruan. I’ve always thought ‘Super Saturday’ was ridiculous. In this day and age, tennis players, especially the men, need a day to recover from best of five-set matches.
    I could see the USO switching to best of three for the men in order to get the slam finished ‘on time’, however, the forecast does NOT look good all week.
    Good on Rafa, AndyM, and AndyR for speaking up, and good on the majority of commentators talking about this issue of the players ‘not feeling protected.

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  2. This reminds me of what Wimbledon often used to be like before they put in a roof. A joy only to meteorologists. Mr Curley – so aptly named for someone who can’t think straight – has really got it sorted. But why waste time? Why not play all the matches the same day? Sure, it would be a little tiring for the players, but let’s keep the sponsors happy – the tournament must go on, musn’t it? And if it keeps raining, Mr Curley could issue the players with gumboots (or flippers and snorkel, if it comes to that.)

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  3. Couldn’t agree with you more, being an American greed has left the majority of us in hard times while the wealthy enjoy their spoils. I am so proud of Nadal, Murray and Roddick telling the officials we will not play, we aren’t safe. The players should be angry. Id go so far as to say all the players should tell the us open, get a roof or we wont come. The head of the tournament thinking its ok for the men to do four five setters in four days is outrageous.He should be hung by his …..! Dont know where the weather will take the tournament but hope all the players will be ok and Roger will take it all.

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  4. “It’s been an embarrassment…..*under his breath* of riches.”

    -anonymous USTA official, while looking at the balance sheet and twisting his mustache. He was quick to acknowledge that having players play 2 a days would be tough but wanted to assure the fans that he would use all his energy to “sit on his ass” while the players drew in the crowds. The lone bright spot: he did not say the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet.

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  5. Forget the prospect of a roof over Ashe the USTA don’t even want to invest in covers 4 the court! Am I the only 1 who thinks that letting the rain pour & getting the court absolutely soaked b4 a tedious & lengthy drying-out operation is just Insanity! At least in pre-roof Wimbledon days U could bet your ass that as soon as it started raining they would cover the court Immediately & as soon as the rain halted,It was ready 4 play! I know this doesn’t solve the problem but it seems like an Immediate & very cheap way to assist matters! Yesterday 4 example the players would have been able 2 complete sets had all that time not been wasted on drying out the courts! They don’t need 2 be Einstein 2 work this out… (btw dude,Love this blog & read it every time U update it! COME ON ROGER!!! All the way this year son… LOL! ;-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks AD :-) You make a very good and obvious point. I thought about this myself after I made the post. Clearly they should have covers for the court!

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    Isk Youyousova Reply:

    This is the best idea yet. They would not dare spend 200 millions for a roof, but to cover the courts make pretty good sense to me. Now that they will have a monday final, perhaps the players can rest and give their best performance.

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    steve Reply:

    A.D., I believe the difference is that the Wimbledon courts are very slightly sloped at the edges to aid in drainage. The Flushing Meadows courts are flat, so water will not flow off of the covers, but pool on top of them instead.

    Though perhaps they should consider fixing this problem as well; I’m sure a clever engineer could solve it.

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  6. Another free pass for djokovic, I’m starting to wonder if these games are fixed. How many retirements are there going to be in this tournament.

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  7. USO has the silliest schedules ever. Super Sat and Final on Sun is a stupid idea. I want to watch quality tennis, not half dead players gasping for oxygen. They never attempt to take care of their courts – no cover during rain and no roof. I think even RG is making plans to build retractable roof. How many times we have to watch final on monday – probably since 2008. USO has to stop being so greedy, period

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  8. The schedule has now been revised and the men’s final will take place on Monday, which is definitely the wise move. Four best-of-five matches in four days is simply too much, and would have been unfair to those players in the bottom half of the draw. And besides, the fact that both SF winners will have a full day off will make for a higher quality final on Monday. As I write this, Fed’s QF with Tsonga has been suspended (with Fed up an early break). Who knows how things will play out now — I’m sure the Djoker is praying that the rain lasts as long as possible. He looked physically spent in his QF match with his fellow Serb and likely relishes all the recovery time he he can get — but it now looks like any scheduling advantage Fed may have had before is no longer a factor.

    I would also like to say thanks to Ruan for all the excellent posts and match reports. I’m relatively new to the blog, but this is truly a fantastic resource for Federer fans worldwide!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks DR! And btw Roger still has an advantage even if they don’t finish tonight. So does Djokovic.

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  9. Federer dispatched Tsonga handily in a very methodical, tactical match.

    He altered his serving patterns to fox Tsonga and went down the middle a lot with his groundstrokes, keeping the ball deep to prevent Tsonga from running and pounding forehands from the corners of the court. He was also very aggressive on the return (and overall) and the pressure eventually told because Tsonga double-faulted to give Federer the decisive break in the third set.

    The semi against Djokovic should be a cracker, I think Federer has a great chance if he can keep up this kind of form.

    I agree with all the comments here about how badly the tournament has been managed. In his postmatch interview, Federer suggested that the Super Saturday format wasn’t working, given that the final has been postponed to Monday for four of the last five years. That should carry a fair bit of weight.

    Clearly the tournament directors need to do something if they aren’t going to spend the money to build a roof (which they easily could afford to do given how much they rake in).

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    neil Reply:

    Roger is playing well enough to win the tournament. I didn’t think I would say that. But the next hurdle is likely to be the biggest.

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    ed Reply:

    Well this wasn’t the Monaco was it? It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t certain that Roger could win. I kept thinking that it was up to Tsonga to lose the match, and he obliged. Yes, Roger hit down the middle, but all his unforced errors, and when Tsonga’s serve was on (its going off was the key to Roger winning) Roger just couldn’t return it. So, I’d have to disagree with Neil that Roger is “playing well enough to win the tournament,” based on this match. There was something just slightly out of control in Roger’s game tonight, especially evident in his errant drop shots. He was lucky in this one, but he did say, in response to Cahill’s question that, it was hard NOT to think of Wimbeldon when he was two sets up and about to be broken by Tsonga. So there was something nervous, too ramped-up about his game, which demanded that Tsonga cooperate in his own defeat. Not that Roger didn’t have moments, but having moments will not win a match against Novak. Maybe with Tsonga behind him, with the necessity of having beaten him achieved, Roger can return to form, to self-control, to something close to what we saw in the Monaco match, and discipline his relentless aggression: if he does that, there’s a very good chance he’ll be in the final.

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    neil Reply:

    Ed, I agree that it wasn’t the Monaco match – but it never was going to be; it was going to be a lot tougher. That put much more pressure on Roger. He pressed harder, with the result that he made more errors. But it also forced Tsonga into error as well. To straight- set a player of Tsonga’s level – a contender for the title – is pretty good – particularly when Roger has lost the previous two matches, and one of them after being up two sets to love. But you are right – the key for Roger will be the balance between aggression and error. So far that balance is ok. But Djokovic will undoubtedly test it even more than Tsonga – for all his weapons – was able to.

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    Manu Reply:

    Djokovic isn’t playing as great as he was coming in the FO match: Federer can take advantage of that. Djoko seems a teeny bit sluggish.(compared to the rest of his season.)

    Federer has to channel his genius again, bring it on like a champion, and mix up his scale of agression.
    GO ROGER

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    ed Reply:

    Point taken, Neil. There was, clearly, a special pressure on both men for this match–as there will be for Novak and Roger in the next. This is much of what creates the high drama at the elite levels in tennis. So it was a matter of who could better handle the extra-tennis pressure of the moment. The decisive sign of pressure is the serve, so you’re quite right about the Monaco match, in which Roger felt little to no pressure. So one has to speculate: is Roger going into the Novak match knowing that he beat him–the only man in the world to have done that this year–feeling focused and confident? Or will the pressure to repeat, and therefore earn his way into the final, his first final in this latest period of Roger’s career unnerve him? What a victory that would be! What a preparation for a final against…anyone!

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  10. HEY Ru-an.Nice post as always.And yeah,Roger won 6-4,6-3,6-3.There are speculations about whether Roger, based on this performance could beat Novak.But the thing here is that he did not play Novak today.He played Tsonga and he played like how he would play to beat Tsonga and not Novak.So ,learly there will be changes in his game plan for Novak and he will play like how he wolud play against him and not like how he would play against Tsonga.

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  11. I disagree with some of the above commentary which stated that Federer did not play the best of matches against Tsonga last night. I think he played a stupendous match considering all the weather issues and who his opponent was. Federer is a master of mental toughness when his will is on fire. And it is now on fire—there is no doubt about it. He owned Tsonga last night, and Tsonga knew it. That’s why the Frenchman was so error-prone. But can the mighty Federer show up two more times? I believe that he can, and that he will. That steely look of determination is burning in his eyes again. So now he has an excellent chance of winning his 17th Major in New York. And what a crowning achievement that would be.

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  12. There we go again, after years of memorable losses to Nadal…..Federer started another streak ….how to loose a won match. 5:2 games and 40:15 , double bp and our map cannot hit a winner and chocked afterwards….Its no about age, skills etc….just mentallity. If u are not calm enough to win when serve for the match at 40:15 u do not desrve to win it!!!Unforgivable…..
    No matter how much i like u Rog u failed big time today at 1 game and ruined a record US open title which u probably have not win since Nadal was going to play there probably. Looks like at least in the future will have more chances vs Nadal since Djoko will beat him if they meet here.

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