Canadian doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski has hit out at the decision to go ahead with this year’s U.S. Open, saying that despite strict health protocols it will be “impossible” to protect players in a bio-secure bubble throughout the event.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the United States Tennis Association would take “extraordinary precautions” to protect players from COVID-19, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated accommodation.
The event will go ahead as originally scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 without fans.
“It is IMPOSSIBLE to control and enforce a bubble situation where players only move from the hotel to the venue and back,” Dabrowski, who has won the Australian Open and the French Open mixed doubles titles, said on Twitter.
“We don’t know who players will come into contact with and those that don’t obey put everyone else in the tournament at RISK.”
Reports in U.S. media and tennis publications say the USTA had decided to eliminate qualifying, halve the doubles draw to 32 pairings and drop the mixed doubles tournament altogether.
Dabrowski, 28, said many players were uncomfortable about travelling to the U.S. due to the coronavirus situation and were concerned about having to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests at the event.
Others had expressed disappointment they would be unable to compete because of the streamlined tournament, she added.
My personal thoughts on the <a href=”https://twitter.com/usopen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@usopen</a> moving forward: <a href=”https://t.co/wLfoQPb2LN”>pic.twitter.com/wLfoQPb2LN</a>
Don’t bet on world No. 2 Halep playing
Women’s world No. 2 Simona Halep is “highly unlikely” to play at Flushing Meadows due to the protocols, a spokeswoman for the Romanian told Reuters.
“If the conditions are as set out on paper for U.S. Open, as Simo [Halep] has been consistent in saying, it’s highly unlikely she will play,” a spokeswoman for the Romanian told Reuters.
Halep’s coach Darren Cahill had told Reuters last week the protocols were “incredibly difficult” and would probably not work for the two-times Grand Slam winner.
According to Dabrowski, the absence of a qualifying and smaller doubles draw increases the lack of parity in tennis.
“For me, a Slam isn’t a Slam without qualifying, doubles, and mixed doubles,” she said. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when so many players are against this event moving forward, and yet it is moving forward anyway. Something just doesn’t feel right here.”
Serena Williams, Isner excited to get back on court
Serena Williams is planning to play in the 2020 U.S. Open.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion said in a video shown during the U.S. Tennis Association’s tournament presentation Wednesday that she “cannot wait to return” to New York for the major championship she has won six times.
The 38-year-old American was the runner-up in Flushing Meadows each of the past two years.
The U.S. Open normally is the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of each season. It will be held without spectators from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, making it be the second major of 2020, following the Australian Open, which concluded in early February.
The USTA also received support for its decision from fellow American John Isner.
“Well done @usta for being so forward thinking in getting this done. Time to get back on the courts!” he said on Twitter.