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Rain delays US Open final – again


 

Originally published on: 13/09/10 10:32

For the third year in succession the US Open has run into a third week after persistent rain forced organisers to postpone the men’s final until Monday, lending further weight to the argument in favour of constructing a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Play is set to start at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at 3pm local time (8pm UK), with the suspended ladies doubles final set to be completed ahead of the men’s final, which will start no earlier than 4pm (9pm UK).

It is the first time in the history of the US Open that the tournament has run into a third week on three consecutive occasions. In 2008, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal’s semi-final was played over two days after rain intervened, moving the final to Monday, while last year a washout on the second Friday meant Nadal did not complete his quarter-final win over Fernando Gonzalez until Super Saturday, the day traditionally reserved for the two men’s semi-finals and the women’s final.

One person who wasn’t complaining about the extra day was Novak Djokovic, whose odds of lifting the title have shortened after he was handed another 24 hours to recover from his epic five-set victory over Roger Federer.

“I don’t know the rituals how to invite the rain,” he joked shortly after the three-hour 44-minute match. “But…an extra day would be great, actually.”

But for USTA officials, the delay has once again highlighted the debate over the need for a roof over the cavernous, uncovered Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Wimbledon debuted its new Centre Court roof in 2009 and the Australian Open has a roof above both the Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. French Open officials have discussed introducing a roof at Roland Garros.

In 2008, then-USTA chief executive Arlen Kantarian said three feasibility studies had been conducted and that the installation of a roof above the 23,771-seater arena was a matter of “when, not if.”
But enthusiasm for the project has cooled dramatically.

“It’s technically complex and financially challenging,” USTA spokesperson Chris Widmaier said Sunday. “At a cost of more than $150 million, do you spend that on a roof or continue to fund grassroots tennis programs in this country?”

$100 million had been spent on improvements at the Flushing Meadows complex in the last five years, with the biggest expense being a new indoor training centre.

Revenue generated by the US Open is also providing player development grants and scholarships and being used to improve tennis facilities around the country, which has included help to resurface 1,100 courts across the United States.

Widmaier added that USTA president Lucy Garvin is heading a committee that will be make recommendations to the tennis association on future improvements to the National Tennis Centre complex. Among the options being looked at is the possibility of covering smaller courts at a lesser expense.

Four-time US Open champion John McEnroe, now a TV commentator, said last year he had lobbied USTA officials from the start to put a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium when it was built to replace Louis Armstrong Stadium in 1997 as the tournament’s main stage.

“It seemed like a no-brainer but people at the USTA decided they wanted to build the biggest,” said McEnroe. “At the same price they could have had a slightly smaller stadium and had a roof.”

The US Open has been extended 13 times since 1935, including a six-day delay in 1938 because of a hurricane.

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