Halep: Strong Concerns About Playing In US Open

WASHINGTON, Jun 12, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Much of the conversation about whether or not there should be a US Open later this summer has focused on comments made by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Both have expressed reservations about flying to the U.S., being quarantined, and playing behind closed doors due to health and safety precautions being implemented as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Plus, in the case of Djokovic, he calls limitations placed on players regarding the size of their teams “impossible” and their being placed in a bubble vis-a-vis limited movement while not on the grounds of the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center “extreme.”

Now, another voice, belonging to none other than women’s World No. 2 Simona Halep, is being heard. Guess what? She’s expressing some of the same concerns as Nadal and Djokovic.

On Wednesday, the two-time Grand Slam champion from Romania expressed in an email interview with The New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey: “I definitely have strong concerns about going there with those conditions. Not only because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic but also because of the risk of travel, potential quarantine and then the changes in the tournament.

“We are used to things operating very differently and it would not be an easy transition at all, particularly on our bodies. I know that financially the tournament and sponsors would like it to run and also that many players are out of jobs right now, but I think it’s a very personal decision we have to make. 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.”

In a telephone interview with French news website Crumpa from Australia, Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill said: “The restrictions are tough. They’re incredibly difficult, and every player will have their own opinion as to whether that will worth for them. I’m pretty sure that won’t work for Simona.

“From Simona’s point of view, you got to fly over from Romania, you need to spend four weeks in this one hotel in New York, and you can only bring one person.

“Normally you have a physio, a hitting partner, trainer and maybe a coach or two. You’ve got to basically stay in this bubble with only one person for three or four weeks, and you have to be professional and compete at the highest level.

“So now there are going to be a lot of players that have an issue with that for sure.”

According to Clarey’s reporting, a Wednesday video conference call involving Patrick Galbraith, president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and 400 players and coaches from the ATP Tour, in which various US Open scenarios, prize money and points were discussed, some of the lower-ranked international players “do share some of the stars’ concerns about health and travel. There are also concerns about fairness, with the qualifying tournament very likely eliminated and full singles rankings points still expected to be on offer if the U.S. Open goes ahead, even without some of the game’s biggest stars.”

A decision by the USTA is expected next week on the status of this year’s US Open. “We have less than a week to go, so we need to finally finalize what we will do,” said Galbraith, as quoted by Clarey.

UTS Dream “Thiem” is finally complete

On Thursday, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, the brainchild of coach and broadcaster Patrick Mouratoglou, announced that World No. 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria had been added to the lineup of players who will be participating in the exhibition tournament hosted by the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Nice, France.

Thiem joins an impressive field of players which includes: World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini, World No. 10 David Goffin, Richard Gasquet, Dustin Brown, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille, Alexei Popyrin and Feliciano Lopez, who was added earlier this week to replace injured Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Due to a prior commitment this weekend, Thiem will enter the Ultimate Tennis Showdown from the second weekend (June 20-21) onwards. Thiem’s replacement as an alternate will be France’s Elliot Benchetrit.

Competition begins June 13 and continues on weekends through July 12.

What they’re saying

Hall of Famer and Tennis Channel analyst Jim Courier on the importance of playing this year’s US Open, in a conversation with the International Tennis Hall of Fame as reported by The SunChronicle of Attleboro, Mass.: “If we can play this tournament, we need to. This is really important for the health of tennis, to stay in front of people. A lot of other sports are opening right now, the PGA Tour starts – even if we don’t have all the players, obviously we’re not going to have Roger (Federer, due to surgery), I think we still need to do our best, to do it safely, to show a pathway for tennis to resume.”

What they’re writing

On Thursday, the often mercurial Nick Kyrgios wrote on Twitter: “The ATP is trying to make the US Open go ahead. Selfish with everything going on at the men’s. Obviously Covid, but also with the riots, together we need to overcome these challenges before tennis returns in my opinion.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Wimbledon / “Wimbledon Recreated”

Garbiñe Muguruza / Rockin’ …

Serena Williams / Olympia’s mom …

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Keeping busy

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