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Players voice concerns at US Open


 

Originally published on: 07/09/11 20:00

You would not want to be in US Open Tournament Referee Brian Earley’s shoes would you? Today at Flushing Meadows three top tennis players, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal marched into his office to discuss the current weather conditions and player safety.

Each of the three players had been out on court today for the briefest moment when play was suspended due to rain. Rafa lost three games to Gilles Muller on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where they played for 15 minutes. After 13 minutes, Andy Roddick was 3-1 up against David Ferrer on Louis Armstrong and Andy Murray was 1-2 down against Donald Young, after playing just nine minutes.

This story is certainly not just a whinge about the weather. The US Open is now courting controversy as the players voice collective concern about the playing conditions. After talking to the Tournament Referee, the players then talked individually to local broadcaster ESPN, which means this is not a private matter between tournament and players. The players have gone public with their concerns.

The two Andy’s and Rafa were very rational in their comments on TV. There were no pointing fingers; just a collective voice that put player needs above everything else. Rafa spoke of how the players “do not feel protected,” and while he understands the needs of the fans “the health of the players is important. “We don’t want to go on court when it is raining,” he continued.

“It was still misting at the back of the court,” said Andy Roddick when he went onto Louis Armstrong. And when asked by ESPN if it was significant that the three players had talked to the umpire together he admitted that had it just been one of them it might have looked like a gripe, but collectively they all share the same concerns. Roddick said that Earley listened to their concerns and “was very nice in the conversation.”

At time of writing it is 3pm local time and it is still raining. Play will not resume until the conditions improve, and after these player discussions, until they are forecast to be fine for a decent length of time. If rain continues to disrupt play, the tournament faces major scheduling challenges as potentially the men who progress will need to play every day if the final is to take place on Sunday. Players in the bottom half of the draw, where Murray, Rafa and Roddick are placed, are still trying to complete their fourth round matches, and it is Wednesday afternoon.

But, the players have spoken, they understand the pressures of the tournament organisers, but it is no reason to make the players go on court at the first sight of a dry spell. That was the concern that they voiced today.

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