WASHINGTON, August 7, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Earlier this week, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) issued revised health protocols and rules that will be in effect for players playing at the Western & Southern Open and the US Open, both scheduled at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York without fans.
In an update sent to players on Tuesday, the USTA spelled out key elements of its plan, which are designed to protect the health and safety of players and their entourages (such as coaches, hitting partners, physios, trainers, family members).
One of the biggest changes being implemented, which players should take notice is this:
• If a player leaves the Western & Southern/US Open “bubble” without written permission (from either the US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster or the tournament’s chief medical officer), they will be removed from the tournament and fined an unspecified amount.
Some of the other protocols and rules:
• If a player tests positive after the start of the tournament, they will be out of the draw and placed on a 10-day isolation.
• A player who tests positive upon arrival could still compete provided they have received medical clearance after the necessary isolation.
• If a player’s roommates test positive, there will be a 14-day quarantine imposed.
• Doubles players will serve as singles alternates.
• Players staying at private homes must have 24-hour security and transportation that is approved by the USTA and can be monitored. Players will not be permitted to stay with or receive visits from individuals who aren’t a part of an officially-approved entourage that is being tested by the USTA for the coronavirus.
• A player’s entourage will be tested every four days.
• A player may have a maximum entourage of three people at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
• A limit of player plus one is allowed at the practice and competition courts, in locker rooms (where there will be a 30-player maximum number allowed at any time) and dining facilities.
• If a coach or other guest of a player leaves the bubble without authorization, that credential will be revoked and the coach or guest will be required to vacate the tournament hotel within 24 hours. In addition, the coach or guest would also be fined and prohibited from being able to receive a 2021 US Open credential.
According to reporting by New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey, “several leading players, including the former U.S. Open champion Andy Murray, have lobbied recently for strong penalties for those who break health and safety protocols.”
The US Open, scheduled from August 31 to September 13, begins three days after the completion of the relocated Western & Southern Open (normally held in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio). It plans to operate in a “bubble” that is similar to what the NBA and NHL have done in the U.S. and Canada, in restarting their respective leagues.
In an interview this week with Washington City Paper, 81st-ranked American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, who tested positive earlier this summer for COVID-19 while competing in the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, says of the USTA, which is managing the US Open: “These guys, they’re professionals, hopefully they can run it at a high level. Obviously the NBA is able to do it, obviously baseball is struggling. It’s tough … but you hope everyone is [testing] negative going in and everybody quarantines and … everyone does the right thing. I don’t see why this tournament can’t go [on}. I think guys want to compete, and a lot of people want to do what they love again.”
Kyrgios says it likely he won’t play again this year
Less than a week after Nick Kyrgios announced in a video that he was sitting out this year’s US Open due to coronavirus concerns, the mercurial Aussie said on Nine Thursday it’s likely he won’t leave his home country for the remainder of the year.
“I knew a lot of players were going to – I don’t think the US Open will be happy seeing some of the biggest names in sport not put their health at risk and go there and play,” said Kyrgios, currently ranked No. 40. “I wasn’t surprised by Rafa’s decision; I think he’s more eying the French Open.”
Kyrgios was making reference to World No. 2 Rafael Nadal‘s decision earlier this week to forgo playing this year’s US Open due to coronavirus concerns and traveling internationally. He called chances he’ll play either the French Open or the European clay swing “slim to none.”
The Australian No. 2 went on to suggest he has doubters about the 2021 Australian Open being played. He also said he sticks by his criticism of some players’ behavior during the pandemic.
Nick Kyrgios has been heard often during this pandemic, but this is the first actual interview I’ve seen with him in a while. pic.twitter.com/49dDCaSZdx
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 6, 2020
A few moments with Sofia Kenin
In advance of next week’s WTA Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., Australian Open women’s singles champion Sofia Kenin answered fan questions about how she’s spent her time during the pandemic shutdown of tennis. “I literally practiced every day except on the weekends.”
“I literally practiced every day except on the weekends,” – @SofiaKenin
The Australian Open champion recently answered fan questions about what she’s been up to during the pandemic. https://t.co/LBGb92J2jK
— TENNIS (@Tennis) August 4, 2020
The Way Back Machine / Where were you when … ?
— LTA (@the_LTA) August 5, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Ashleigh Barty / My favorite kind of day …
My favourite kind of day 🖤💛❤️ A really special trip to Cairns with so many smiling kids coming to say g’day 👋🏽 pic.twitter.com/Ys0xBX7Tyi
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) August 6, 2020
Judy Murray / Never forget where u come from. ❤️
Never forget where u come from. ❤️ https://t.co/bzRzgMCqFX
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) August 6, 2020
Daria Kasatkina / Thanks FC Barcelona for this amazing gift!
— Daria Kasatkina (@DKasatkina) August 6, 2020