By Matt Hill
For a fifth consecutive US Open, weather is playing havoc with the second week of the tournament.
Now, players who still have to play their Round of 16 match on the men’s side of the bracket will have to win four matches in five days in order to bring home this grand slam championship.
Tuesday’s rain forced the Andy Roddick-Juan Martin Del Potro match to be suspended at in a first set tiebreak. Now Roddick will have an almost impossible task of possibly having to defeat four top ten players in a very brief amount of time.There is a good chance the trend that started in 2008 will continue of having Monday finals at the Open. Had Roddick been in the top half of the bracket, he would have the opportunity to sit much prettier.
It seems like Roger Federer is always catching the breaks. The 17-time grand slam winner has not played since Saturday following Mardy Fish’s pull out against him Monday. Now Federer is scheduled for a night match on Wednesday against Thomas Berdych, one that has a good chance of being postponed until Thursday.
Assuming the match is played, he will have two days off heading into Saturday’s semifinal. Players like Novak Djokovic, who still has to play Stan Wawrinka in in the round of 16, have a more taxing road to the title.
There has to be a solution or at least something can be done to help prevent the backlog of matches.Wimbledon and the Australian Open both have retractable roofs over their featured courts. It doesn’t totally solve the problem, but the second week of the tourney you don’t need as many courts to complete singles matches. Wimbledon had a lot of rain this year, but the tournament was completed on time. Things have to be done at the U.S. Open in order for Arthur Ashe to get a roof, but it needs to happen.
The biggest problem though is probably not the roof. The schedule of this tournament is absolutely ridiculous. At the other three grand slams, they do not play back-to-back semifinals and finals. At this tournament, the women’s semifinals and finals fall on Friday and Saturday with the men’s semis and finals contested on Saturday and Sunday. Or so that’s how it is supposed to go?
The last five years the US Open has gone from being “The world’s toughest tennis” to “The world’s longest rain delay.”
As a result of the crazy scheduling with three days for first round men’s play the big culprit, this tournament pretty much gets pushed back.
They need to let the people who run the Australian Open run this tournament, because they know how to run a grand slam event. The Australian goes to the other extreme, as they actually play one men’s semifinal on Thursday and one on Friday. Minus that, it is an extremely well run grand slam that schedules right and does the things the tournament needs to do to get done.
I believe the US Open should go to a similar schedule as Wimbledon and Roland Garros. They should have a Thursday-Saturday format for women’s semis and finals and a Friday-Saturday format for the men’s semifinals and finals.
I’m not a weather expert, but it seems like the second week of the Open is when the weather takes a drastic turn away from a summertime pattern in New York and more into an autumn like phase. Couple that with having to go up against the NFL and college football, maybe starting the event one week later is a possibility.
Nevertheless, the US Open has a real problem and it needs to be addressed before this becomes the least relevant grand slam. It seems like the event has a lost a little bit of its flare. I really believe the constant weather delays have not helped. However, I believe a few changes here and there, and this tournament can return to it’s past glory.
Matt Hill is veteran tennis reporter in the Tri-Cities TN/VA Region. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of sunshinestateconference.com