US Open 2011: Some choice words from New York
Marianne Bevis looks back at the controversy that emerged as a result of the tournament's scheduling
The US Open of 2011 may become the Grand Slam that is remembered as a turning point for player power.
What began as simply another wet New York turned into one of the most outspoken tournaments in living memory.
As matches were delayed and the schedule fell into chaos, players took matters into their own hands. They objected to a damp Arthur Ashe, walked off a cracked Louis Armstrong and opted to play on outside courts with no Hawkeye and few spectators rather than await their fate for a third day in the locker room.
A festering wound””the lack of representation for the players in Grand Slams compared with the professional tour””had been opened. Now, the welfare of players, the demands of the broadcasters and the priorities of the organisers became part of the debate.
Here are some of the comments””with a few on those other “˜political’ hot potatoes, the tour schedule and time-wasting””that may change the face of the US Open and the other Slams in years to come.
“This is the fourth year in a row I think we’re playing a Monday final. Might as well make it a Monday final, right? Or you have to change up a few things. I think the [three-day] first rounds is not working and Super Saturday is not feasible without the roof, I just don’t think Saturday/Sunday is feasible any longer.”
Roger Federer, President of the Players’ Council
“Grand Slams are about a lot of money. We’re part of the show. They’re just working for that, not for us. They know it’s still raining and call us onto the court. That’s not possible. I understand the fans want to see tennis but the health of the players is the most important and we do not feel protected. We have to fight to change things, to have enough power that we don’t have to go on court when it’s raining.”
Rafael Nadal, Vice-President of the Players’ Council and the first to become critical of the referee’s decision on playing in the rain
“I wasn’t too impressed with the scheduling. I understand it’s a tricky situation, but I think things could have been done a little bit differently or communication could have been better to express why things were gonna happen the way they happened.”
Sam Stosur, at being scheduled on Grandstand for her semi-final. She did not play a single match on Ashe before the final
“The season’s too long; too many mandatory events. You basically have 16 mandatory events now during the year. It’s just too long. The Davis Cup always comes pretty much the week after the Slams, too. It’s a long stretch.”
Andy Murray on the length of the professional tour
“We have not much say in Grand Slam play and that’s without even talking about the revenues and all that stuff. So there are a whole lot of other issues we need to work through with the Grand Slams and the ITF. I think it’s very important that we do get to a table and speak, which never actually happens.”
Federer weighs in behind Nadal
“I don’t feel that the players have enough power to change things. That is definitely something that should be changed. And then when we are united, it’s easier to achieve things and easier to change schedule or whatever we want to change.”
Novak Djokovic, despite wanting to postpone comment on the issue, still concurred with his colleagues.
“There are a lot of really slow Grand Slams now, surface-wise. They’ve even slowed down this surface, which is frustrating, because this was definitely the fastest Slam surface-wise that we’ve had.”
Mardy Fish on the slowing of the US Open courts
“There are many times where it takes way too long between points. I think it’s a bit of a waste of time, to be quite honest, this whole pre-warm-up and stuff.”
Federer, who played the quickest completed men’s match, 1hr 17 against Monaco. Both Djokovic and Nadal were give time violation warnings during the final but neither received a second despite no change in the speed.
“Do you think commercial interests trump player well-being?”
Andy Murray, a straight answer to a straight question after the rain debate took off.