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US Open must take action and build a roof

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Jonathan Overend | 21:47 UK time, Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Every year we turn up to the US Open wondering if this will be the year they announce concrete plans for the future of the Flushing Meadows complex.

The men's final has been delayed to a third Monday for the last three years and now the 2011 tournament is in a mess after heavy rain in New York.

The US Open is the only Grand Slam tournament without a roof on the main show court or a public intention to build one.

Official word had been that nothing had changed. It's too costly to build a roof or Arthur Ashe Stadium is too big to put a roof on it, that sort of thing.

But if long-term plans are being drawn up behind the scenes, which we gather they are, then that is an excellent development.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has faced a barrage of criticism for its failure to grasp the issue. It shouldn't be afraid to tell the world the matter is in hand.

It should be remembered that the USTA is responsible for the development of tennis in the whole of the United States and massive expenditure on its headquarters would mean slashing budgets elsewhere. A financial commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars will not be signed off at the drop of a hat but the project is much needed and now overdue.

The 23,700-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium is generally thought to be too large to be covered by a retractable roof and, even if a design could be conjured up, a major issue is the high water table in the Flushing Meadows area.

Major tournaments recognise the need for at least one covered show court - Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open, will have three by 2015 - so hopefully the USTA will acknowledge that building a new Armstrong Court with a roof is not enough.

That is because a covered court needs to protect the finals for fans, players and television. It has to be the largest court. Hence the only realistic scenario for Flushing Meadows is a remodelling and down-sizing of the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Will that happen?

Well, it would require an admission from officials that they got it wrong when they built the cavernous bowl in the mid-1990s. But this is a time to face facts and stop dithering.

Talking of which, what a chaotic day Wednesday was: Panic calls, incorrect forecasts and players in revolt.

Andy Murray was amazed to discover towels being used to soak up standing water at the back of the Grandstand court just as he was being told it was fit to play.

No wonder there was a behind-closed-doors meeting between players and officials after a brief period of play. The official line was that a two-hour window of dry weather had been forecast. It turned out to be just 15 minutes.

Murray was told to warm up four times between 4.30pm and 5.30pm local time before his match was finally called off for the day at 5.45pm. All the exertion and adrenalin meant he felt more drained than if he had played.

Then things hit rock bottom during the night session. Officials somehow imagined the women's quarter-finals could be played, calling the competitors to court at 7.30pm only to send everyone home after the knock-ups.

The sight of the world number one Caroline Wozniacki stepping out onto a deserted Armstrong Court was a depressing image. Not a good one for tennis.

It seems the weather has it in for Flushing Meadows. Organisers are doing their best to cope but, in reality, the other majors cope better.

The idea that some players do not start their campaigns until Wednesday has to be abandoned, while the idea that court covers "don't look good" at the side of the court - an assertion made by referee Brian Earley in 2003 - has to be dropped.

The US Open thinks it is the best major in the world but is, at the moment, fighting to avoid being labelled the worst. The quicker it accepts this and the quicker the issues of the past few days are resolved, the better the tournament will be for everyone.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    You don't like tennis. Okay. So why are you posting on a tennis article?

    Made me laugh actually.

  • Comment number 3.

    #2 quite correct, poster #1 obviously doesn't realise how much he/she is embarassing him/herself.

    Always good to see the Americans too brash to realise how badly they are getting something wrong!

  • Comment number 4.

    Sorry Jonathan it already is the worst!! But based on your summary you obviously think one of the others is, so why not give us your ranking?

    Personally I think it is the worst not just because of a lack of roof but also the crazy schedule of splitting the mens and womens into week 2 just to keep the tv companies happy. How many times has the player with 1 day less rest gone on to win the final?

    How come Formula 1 teams can accurately forecast local rain to within a few minutes during races but the US open mistake a 15 minute window with a 2 hour window... Again probably influenced by the tv stations who need their daily highlights packages

    Then there is the seeding committee that has to be the biggest waste of time and money in all of tennis as their policy is to comply 100% with the rankings. If that is the policy you don't need a committee, if they aren't going to move Serena Williams up from 28th seed this year then they obviously never are going to make any changes

  • Comment number 5.

    Good point about the Wednesday start for some singles competitors. All it takes is a couple of days' rain at the wrong time, and some players will find themselves -as they are now- at the second Thursday without having played their 4th round match. A re-prioritised schedule (eg: tournament starts on a Sunday, all players to have their 1st round match scheduled by the end of Tuesday at the latest) would paper over some of the cracks while waiting for the roof to arrive.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't know about a roof, but the policy of systematically disadvantaging one half of the draw, and running the risk of weather exacerbating the disadvantage, is surely untenable.

    This year, the only saving grace is that the fittest top 4 players are in the cramped side of the draw, though Nole is no slouch, either. The odds on him winning, already very short, must be shortening by the hour.

  • Comment number 7.

    Too big for a roof? Funny but I seem to remember a roof on the Millennium stadium, significantly bigger than any tennis venue.

    Make it permanent, use lightweight cloth-like material, it's not like there's any grass to need sunlight anyway.

  • Comment number 8.

    Not sure how a 23,700-capacity tennis court can be 'too big' when the millenium stadium is 74,500 and has a one of the best retractable roofs in the business but there you go. A lot of people said it wouldn't work at Wimbledon, and now you'd be considered a mad-man for saying that. Maybe the Americans simply lack the British ingenuity and ambition? Or are they really that arrogant to expect players to turn up at an outdated event and not complain when they get rained off due to poor facilities?

    Out of interest does the ITF have the power to 'relegate' venues from grand slam status if they aren't up to standard and give someone else a go? I know the idea of anyone but the big 4 hosting a slam is abhorrent, but it would keep them on there toes a bit more.

    Perfect example of that is Silverstone with F1, they get dropped from the calendar, they begin a huge reinvestment process, luck back into the calendar when the Donington plan collapses and now have the best facilities in the sport.

  • Comment number 9.

    From the first week when part of the draw didn't start until Wednesday until the debacle of yesterday the USTA have looked foolish to put it mildly.
    The roof is a long term fix but the scheduling is something that could be changed next year. All first round matches should aim to be completed by the first Tuesday, all quarters should be played on the second Monday, mens semis should be played on the Friday. Simple enough but it will never happen as USTA is driven by TV.

    I assume the ladies were still scheduled to play last night because of the mens protest? If it had happened their would have been ladies in the semis and men still in the fourth round. Can't see any man in the bottom half having a chance. Set up for Fed or Novak.

  • Comment number 10.

    1. Wimbledon
    2. Roland Garros
    3. Flushing Meadows
    4. Melbourne Park

    Truth is, these fit more nicely around the time I'm awake. Having said that, Wimbledon is just the pinnacle of tennis and I [think I] would feel this no matter where I was from or where I lived. US Open has to get a roof sorted. The game has moved on and they need to aswell.

  • Comment number 11.

    no the us open does not need a roof, unlike wimbledon where rain is almost a annual occurance the us open rarely sees bad weather to force of players, we know the weather is a direct result of the hurricane a few weeks ago so barring a hurricane every year in august i think the tornement will be fine.

    "The US Open thinks it is the best major in the world but is, at the moment, fighting to avoid being labelled the worst."

    Why because people in this country like u say so? ask the players and many say wimbledon and the us open are the 2 biggest ones, the french open is a horrible event with evan worse fans who regularly boo players and imo the australian open is the one that usually gets forgotten about.

    Agree that this week hasent been a great advertisement for the game but talk about over the top reactions

  • Comment number 12.

    "Murray was told to warm up four times between 4.30pm and 5.30pm local time before his match was finally called off for the day at 5.45pm. All the exertion and adrenalin meant he felt more drained than if he had played."

    Oh, bless him, poor dear!

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 assuming that play goes on until the third Monday, it means that the last 4 years have had the men's final played on the Monday. To say that New York 'rarely sees weather to force off players' is clearly a fallacy...

    Definitely think that they need to have a roof. Surely after a few years it would have paid for itself?

  • Comment number 14.

    13- yes the final mate, the one game where its not a advantage for either player as they both have no matches after that game, that monday should always be kept as a spare day anyway imo in all majors just like in golf, the rest of the tournement is usaully ok regards to weather

  • Comment number 15.

    "11.At 09:35 8th Sep 2011, united_kaz wrote:
    no the us open does not need a roof, unlike wimbledon where rain is almost a annual occurance the us open rarely sees bad weather to force of players, we know the weather is a direct result of the hurricane a few weeks ago so barring a hurricane every year in august i think the tornement will be fine."

    Hmm.

    Jonathan Overend | 21:47 UK time, Wednesday, 7 September 2011

    "The men's final has been delayed to a third Monday for the last three years and now the 2011 tournament is in a mess after heavy rain in New York"


    It's not a freak event having poor weather in New York in September. The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1st and runs until November, catching the tail end of a hurricane's passing in September is not uncommon. Come on.

  • Comment number 16.

    another reason im not really a fan of the roof is that most of the time its only the big guns who play on the show courts nadal, federer, djoko, williams etc that will benifit from it, the outside courts will still be open to bad weather and guys and girls who dnt play on the show courts will and regularly are at a dissadvantage,

  • Comment number 17.

    I never gave the scheduling of the tournament much thought, but surely sorting that out first would lessen the impact of poor weather when it comes?

    We've had bad weather at Wimbledon countless times before we had a roof, and we've had 'Magic Mondays' or whatever they're called, but it's never disadvantaged one player who may have had to play four matches in four days as opposed to another who's only only played twice in the same amount of time.

  • Comment number 18.

    The USTA is driven by media commitments. A roof would ensure they could meet these commitments through the tournament and avoid congestion at the latter end, avoiding players having to play five setters on consecutive days. Not ideal but as that is the way it is at the US Open it will help the running of a badly organiised tournament.

  • Comment number 19.

    #10
    I have been to 3 of the 4 Grand Slam events and I can say that as a fan your ranking is way off.

    In terms of facilities and fan friendlyness the Australian is by far the best. Roland Garros is a bit outdated but the atmosphere is great and the hostile crowd seems to keep the players on their toes. Wimbledon is overhyped and isn't great as a fan, too expensive, very difficult to get decent tickets and the policy of keeping the top players on show courts only means fans are less likely to see them. As for the US Open, it is clearly too dependent on the media and corporate $. They (as all the others have) need to move with the times. Even if it only means putting court covers on so they don't have such a big clear up job would save hours over a rainy two weeks!

    My ranking as a fan would be:
    1. Melbourne Park
    2. Roland Garros
    3. Wimbledon
    4. US Open

  • Comment number 20.

    19

    I understand your point about Wimbledon and the tickets, but I agree with poster 10. I think Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis. I have been there in the last two years on one day each and both experiences have just been amazing for someone like me who loves tennis. The second time, I got to see the Number 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal play, through Ticket Resale and it was just the most amazing experience. So I feel that wherever you are in the world, Wimbledon is the best tournament and the one most player want to win. Look at Nadal in 2008. After he won the French, his post-match comments were all about how he wanted to take the momentum into Wimbledon.

  • Comment number 21.

    I believe the tournament director in 2003 said he wouldn't have covers because it spoilt the look of the courts.

  • Comment number 22.

    The 'how can it be too big' with comparitives to the Millenium stadium and others are disingenuous to say the least.

    Putting a roof on a court is a massive engineering exercise, and it is more to do with the existing struture (and the existing integrigty and load capacity). Plus (as anyone who knows the history of the Millenium stadium construction knows) it is also about site access and the space around the existing stadium to build temporary works and the final structure).

    Putting a semi-permamnet lightweight structure would laso never pass any safety testing as it would have to withstand the huricane season.

    Having said all that, given the game is about money and revenue, there clearly has to be an arguement for shelling out to make it happen. They will lose their status in the top 4 otherwise. Especially if players 'elect' not to play because it significantly increases the potential for risk of injury, thereby precluding them from tour events and other grand slams. Would any top 100 player risk their fitness in order to play a single event, unless forced? Seriously doubt it.

    I'm also not sure why people are amazed by the arrogance of the organisers, they are so far removed from reality and logic that it is more surprising when they do something which makes sense.

    Oh yes, and comment no1. Well done for having enough time on your hands to comment, and yet so little inspiration to see any positivity in the world. I think you've confused the BBC with the Daily Mail.

  • Comment number 23.

    #19
    If you enjoyed Wimbledon then get to Paris for a couple of days. Tickets are far more reasonably prices, more readily available and they spread the players around the courts a bit more. Watching the players slide on the red clay is a spectacle to behold and some of the tennis on show is brutal. Wimbledon is all about the image of "SW19", Strawberrys & cream at £7 a go etc. I would love to go to the US Open to complete my own "grand slam" but I can't take the risk of flying 6000 miles to not see any play!

  • Comment number 24.

    One point in terms of events, I would say that the end of season finale at the O2 in recent years has provided a better 'experience' than the US. Underpublicised for those not living in the capital, and never 'rained off'!

    Australian Open is probably the best organised and has benefitted from significant investment in recent years, the French has the most confrontational atmosphere, but excellent surfaces for great tennis and Wimbledon (despite the corporate overpricing) does still have the 'buzz'.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm glad you mentioned the court covers Jonathan - it's aways baffled me why they spend money on machines to soak up standing water and deploy ball boys and girls with towels to mop up puddles when covers would do a far better job.

    They would mean play could get under way almost immediately after any rain stops and would result in less dangerous conditions for players to endure. The tournament organiser's argument that they don't look good courtside is ridiculous - surely they could put a sponsor on them to earn some more money as that's all the USTA seem worried about?

    http://thebigblogofsport.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 26.

    New York at this time of year has variable weather because it hurricane season and it gets the storms that follow from that, which tend to track up the east coast. It is no more reliable for weather than London or Paris.
    Even if you have a roof, it is sensible to ensure you don't backload the schedule but if you don't have a roof, it is madness to do so. One roofed show court protects the integrity of the event from QF onwards (before then, there are too many matches) so the smart thing to do is schedule to get to QF by Wedneday latest, preferably Tuesday and work back from there. With no roof, that is essential.
    I think we must also acknowledge what drives this nonsensical scheduling, especially "Stupid Saturday" The USTA clearly have no confidence in the womens event to be sufficiently commerically attractive to carry a day's tennis on its own, especially at the weekend. If they are right, it seriously undermines the rationale for equal prize money and the net outcome is that it devalues the men's event which tends to be won by the least knackered player. Even now, it seems they are expecting the men to play 4 back to back 5 setters so they can keep to the TV schedule.Given how physically intense the sport now is, the fact they haven't already announced a delayed final shows precisely where the USTA's priorities are.
    This is not confined to the USO either. Preceding this was back to back masters which resulted in the current world's best player reaching the final in Cincy but having to pull out as his body disintegrated. The mood of the players is for revolt and they have every right to be in that mood. The media, TV and sponsors are only interested because the USO is supposed to be one of the pinnacles of tennis but it won't be if you treat the players like circus acts.

  • Comment number 27.

    Surely a roof is in the best interests of the USTA to satisfy its corporate sponsors? The rain delays are damaging its reputation with sponsors for a start. Also with a roof the stadium could be used for other sporting events like NBA Basketball year round enhancing its profitability.

  • Comment number 28.

    A roof on Arthur Ashe stadium is clearly not feasible. It is so much bigger than any other tennis stadium in the world and absolutely dominates the Billy Jean King tennis complex that building a roof on top of it would not only cause major disruption to the tournament, but be practically impossible to do. In theory, it may be possible to actually build one, but at what cost?

    It would be better to build one on Armstrong and Grandstand. It shouldn't matter that these are the two and three show courts respectively.

    It is unlikely that such inclement weather will be seen at Flushing Meadow like this every year, so Ashe will stay have its day.

    I can't comment on the respective qualities of the grand slams as I've been to none. But from a television perspective, the US Open is behind Wimbledon and Australia. The quality of the pictures seem to be low resolution, while the cameras angles are non-existent. The fact that they are slaves to the commercials doesn't help.

    Roland Garros looks horrendous on the clay. The fans seem appalling booing players, even their own French players while the surface is condusive to, IMO, poor tennis.

  • Comment number 29.

    Great article.

    With the night session too, a roof will surely be much better allowing better lighting and keeping possible rain at bay. In my personal opinion the US Open is a great tournament which usually brings about some great tennis matches. But a roof is needed, or at least covers, I was watching live last night (on another sports broadcasting channel - names not mentioned) and it had stopped raining but there were ground staff trying to mop up with towels (as Mr. Murray commented) and small mops. Now if they are so reluctant on a roof can they not get themselves some covers and some decent ground staff. I am being a bit biased, but watching the Wimbledon ground staff bringing the covers on when it starts to rain is like watching professionals compared to a couple of locals trudging around bored at Flushing Meadows.

  • Comment number 30.

    Pretty lazy journalism Jonathan! Aedas were commissioned to investigate a roof for the Arthur Ashe - design and images can be found here;
    http://www.aedas.com/USTA-Arthur-Ashe-Stadium
    Also by typing into google 'Arthur Ashe Roof'!
    I'd imagine its the estimated $40M cost of the development is the only thing that is preventing it's construction.

  • Comment number 31.

    Surely they can build a roof on Ashe with a big supporting column in the middle of the court? It'll give the players a different experience just to avoid their shots hitting it. We'll see how accurate they are. ;-)

    Seriously though, there's been a lot of talk about the final probably not being played until Monday, but having seen a weather forecast, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if it's delayed further. No dry days forecast for a while. Is there anywhere indoors in New York to play? I know it's not the same, but it's better to finish the tournament before the next events in the calendar.

  • Comment number 32.

    Gavelaa, I looked up average rainfall for NY in September and it is much higher than London in June/July, Paris in May/June and Melbourne in January. The notion that NY is generally dry in September is false. The data suggests that of all the slams, the USO has most need for at least one covered court and failing that, a much more sensible schedule than the idiot organisers seem capable of arranging.

  • Comment number 33.

    Interesting points about the Millenium stadium but I imagine the Arthur is a very different structure and I guess you're talking about a complete cantilever rebuild of many parts of the stadium. At least Centre Court at Wimbledon had a roof to start with. Maybe Armstrong or Grandstand could take a roof more easily so at least some tennis could continue when the next hurricane strikes.

    The scheduling debate I completely agree with, they at least have to play the semis on the same day.

    In terms of Grand Slam sites.

    1. Wimbledon, excellently redesigned in recent years, has history, modernity, prestige.

    2. Melbourne Park, stiffling hot during the Australian January but great surroundings and atmosphere, the friendly grandslam (unless a Serbian plays a Croatian). Roof mainly used to stop players vaporising.

    3. Flushing Meadows, if it's dry Arthur Ashe is an impressive place.

    4. Rolland Garros, cramped site, needs to expand and modernise, authorities would do well to cut the lip service and make it happen.

  • Comment number 34.

    "The 23,700-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium is generally thought to be too large to be covered by a retractable roof and, even if a design could be conjured up, a major issue is the high water table in the Flushing Meadows area."

    The Yanks said the Batmobile from Batman Returns couldn't be made, it was built in the UK. Says it all really....

  • Comment number 35.

    I am just amazed that no other venue has come forward to take over from Flushing Meadow. If the current venue doesn't provide the necessary infrastructure surely there must be somewhere to move the whole competition to - if not already in existence, somewhere with more potential.

  • Comment number 36.

    The roof does not need to be on the main court.

    The problem is not the high profile matches, but the schedule backlog.

    Even if the top 4 have all their matches on Ashe, they could get to the 4th round and have nobody to play!

    Building a new court sounds like a great opportunity and I'm sure a sponsor would pay $40m to put a big swoosh logo on it, especially when it's the only court being shown on TV.

  • Comment number 37.

    us open better than wimbledon,the less we say the better.i will do a analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the us open,australian open and roland garros

    australian open:
    strengths
    -fan base is amazing,atomsphere,facilities,respectful,knowledgable.
    -stadiums are great,2 retractable roofs on laver,hisense and 3rd on margaret court(2015)
    -surface that is fair and suits everyones games,defensive or agressive.the amount of 5 set matches are unreal since they changed from rebound ace to plexicushion in 2008
    -and for me personally the time of year,when in our very depressing winter,early nights,cold etc,we see great tennis in the summer,without being a complete sad case i think it is good

    weaknesses
    -idiotic scheduling,aussie losers on laver,at night when we have to watch(bbc coverage),sally peers was on laver on primetime,wtf.it is like putting anne keovavong on centre court at 5 o'clock,i wouldnt mind if it was aginst a top 10 player but it was against someone equally bad
    -uncertainty with the heat rules
    -stupid and embarressing clothes they make the umpires and ball kids wear
    -making the players do an embarressing thanks to the sponsors and naming them individually,you can see the desperation in their eyes to see the sponsor names while talking,cringe

    overall i realy like the australian open,but the scheduling is a joke to be fair

    roland garros
    strengths
    -clay court tennis is beautiful
    -it is in france so it is only a short train journey
    -the intense stadiums,great atomsphere(federer,djokovic 2011)
    -looks absolutly great from tv with all the colour (even better live,i highly recommend going for a couple of days)

    weaknesses
    -where can i start,crammed facilities for fans and assuming for the players as well
    - the fans are an absolute nightmare,booing and heckling players,rude towards players(the mexican wave during or about to start a point,it is mexican for a reason),most of them are snobs and it is a social event to them

    overall i like roland garros but not as much as the aussie open though i love watching claycourt tennis,fitness,stamina,skill what more can you ask for.

    us open
    strengths
    -good facilties and excellant fan centres there,you dont even have to go to watch tennis it is amazing
    -quick courts provide some variable tennis ,but it looks a little bit faster than the australian open which is strange,should be miles quicker
    -famous people that attend

    weaknesses
    -all the money they make they cant built 1 roof,seems sad and tight to me
    -the fans in the normal seats aren't the issue it is the ones in the executive seats,rude no respect to fans and players treat it like a baseball match,i read in the ny times that sharapova was realy annoyed by a group who were drinking at noon or something getting very loud and when umpires were directing their normal be quite thing they would laugh and continue.

    out of all the grand slams i would rank for prestige and historical value
    1.wimbledon
    2.us open
    3.roland garros
    4.australian open

    for player recognition the same
    for me though i would

    1.wimbledon
    2.australian open
    3.roland garros
    4.us open

    any comment towards me is fine constructive critisims or abuse i would welcome youre opinion

  • Comment number 38.

    In 2007 at Wimbledon Nadal's 3rd round match against Soderling lasted 5 days and ended on the 2nd Wednesday. Roger finished his 3rd round on the first Friday and had a walkover in the 4th.

    It's September. People in New York go to work and school. That's why the US Open has Super Saturday. Middle Sunday was bright and sunny in 2007. Nadal and Soderling should have finished their match.

  • Comment number 39.

    The idea that some players do not start their campaigns until Wednesday has to be abandoned, while the idea that court covers "don't look good" at the side of the court - an assertion made by referee Brian Earley in 2003 - has to be dropped.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What an incredibly silly thing for Earley to say. Reminds me of Sir Alfred Chalmers' stupidity when saying the Titanic wouldn't need to take the necessary amount of lifeboats as they probably wouldn't need them...

  • Comment number 40.

    I understand where you are coming from "topspin" but the fact is that was 2007 and it wouldn't happen now because of the roof. I have never understood why they don't play Sundays at Wimbledon. I have heard it's for court maintenance but don't really know. As Wimbledon is bulging at the seams for the whole tournament they obviously don't see middle Sunday as an issue but for a working person if you don't get weekend tickets in the draw you can't see show courts.
    At least there are never any empty seats at Wimbledon unlike RG and US Open. As the only other tournaments in GB are two "250" tournaments it's hardly suprising tickets are way oversubscribed.

  • Comment number 41.

    26.At 11:23 8th Sep 2011, federalexpress wrote:
    "...it seriously undermines the rationale for equal prize money..."

    Please don't start people off on the equal prize money debate - we'll be hear all day if we get into that one!

  • Comment number 42.

    #1 - comedy gold.

    #7 - it's meant to be an outdoor tournament - putting a permanent roof on is out of the question.

    #37, enjoyed your analysis and you are totally right about the order. Just think you should leave out the stuff that is specific to us as UK based tenns fans as these are globally televised and marketed events. Judge the slams on those criteria alone and the order would still be correct in my opinion.

  • Comment number 43.

    "As Wimbledon is bulging at the seams for the whole tournament they obviously don't see middle Sunday as an issue but for a working person if you don't get weekend tickets in the draw you can't see show courts."

    Couldn't you take a day off? That's what I've done for the last five or six years in order to go. I appreciate some employers might be more difficult about this than others, but tennis can't only occur when people are off work.

    Then again, I think the US Open should happen earlier in the day, just so it's easier to follow in the UK! ;-) Some pictures would be nice too. It's the only Slam that I've never seen live pictures of, as it's not on the BBC. Yes, I know I could get some subscriber telly package.

  • Comment number 44.

    el nino, the problem is it goes right to the heart of the scheduling problem and therefore cannot be ignored. The issue is whether the USTA are correct in their premise that the women's game has much less commercial appeal and whether they have the evidence to back it up- I left that question open. One way of evaluation it is looking at the price of black market tickets and there is no doubt that the solus mens days carry a massive premium, around fourfold at Wimbledon. Either way, my view is that the USTA have made their bed and they should not be abusing the men's event to avoid lying in it.

    Re middle sunday at Wimbledon, yes it is scheduled to be a rest day to give a chance for the grass to recover, apparently a little bit of recovery time makes a big difference and 14 days consecutive tennis on it would be a problem. Obviously if you have to use middle sunday, the grass will have had a rest on the rain affected day(s). Also there are local restrictions on the use of AELTC on the sunday, things like restrictions on gate use and staff availability which makes it challenging (but not impossible) to schedule play on that day.

  • Comment number 45.

    .EdTennis Fan, I'm OK as I am retired but friends who are teachers can't get a weekday off school.
    I have been to ladies quarters and semis for the past two years and felt quite short changed. Standard wasn't wonderful. I will keep trying and hope to get first week or a men's match.
    Still go back to my first comment re US Open, a lot a problems would be resolved by better scheduling

  • Comment number 46.

    How long before at least 2 of the "Majors" and at least one other global sporting event are a permanent fixture in the Middle East? I mean if you can cover a football pitch in Dubai then why not cut the stadium in two and there's two instant Courts and with a bit rejigging a centre peace tennis stadium - build smaller show courts all about it and then Bob's your Auntie....

  • Comment number 47.

    #37 - I agree in part with your rankings but I find you disregard the historical value of the Grand Slam of Australia - Kooyong had the history and the tradition and whilst Melbourne Park doesn't, the Aussie Tennis people had the foresight to move the Slam to a much bigger and purpose built venue and this gives them loads of $$$ nowadays that allows them to renovate and expand stadiums and make conditions fan friendly, if the USTA had that some foresight then Flushing Meadows would be just as good. Sometimes you have to make a hard decision that is better in the long-term, a la Aussie Open

  • Comment number 48.

    #45. That's a shame (on all counts). I wasn't meaning to be unsympathetic. Work gets in the way of lots of things.

    I've also seen ladies' semis in recent years. Watching Safina serve up seemingly endless double faults wasn't the best day's entertainment, it has to be said.

    I actually prefer going to early on as you get three or four matches and have the chance of seeing all kinds of players. The standard isn't necessarily going to be as great as a later-round match, but it's still a good day out.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48 I paid a premium price for ladies semis and wonder what the cost of mens' semis was in comparison. For me first week sounds a better prospect and cheaper.
    My "ten things to do before I die" list includes all the slams but US Open seems a bit dodgy if weather prospects aren't good. Long way to travel.

  • Comment number 50.

    #49 Assuming men's semis at Wimbledon are on the Friday on Centre Court, they are £105 next year, which is the same price as the ladies' final (the men's final is £120). The ladies' semis is £95. I don't particularly want to raise the thing about equal prize money, as, to be quite honest, I don't really care, but it does make you wonder why it is equal when the price for the tickets is different.

  • Comment number 51.

    It does not matter if they can only put a roof on one of the courts so long as the main singles matches can be played to some sort of schedule.

    It really is ridiculous expecting players to play to the early hours of the morning - it should be a tennis contest not and endurance contest.

  • Comment number 52.

    Bad weather is one thing but now we are hearing that the roddick/ferrer match has been called off after a few minutes because water is coming up out of a crack by the baseline. Not a question whether it will finish on time, its whether it will finish within a week of the scheduled final. Build roofs on both courts and do it quick, otherwise the sport suffers in a country that has offered so many greats over the years.

  • Comment number 53.

    11 is no meteorolgist...as 15 notes its very likely that there will be some days of very heavy rain in NYC in early September...in fact a few days of bad weather are actually more likely in NY in September than in London in late June

  • Comment number 54.

    One problem is that they are very beholden to the TV networks.
    A couple of people have suggested that if they moved up the tournament by a week and end it on Labor Day weekend, they'd have more leeway when they have rain situations, but this causes a problem with TV coverage. Because of the holiday, TV ratings are lower than normal- and the TV network that broadcasts the tournament prefers to have the men's final at 4:30 pm on a Sunday- after an NFL game, which is a better lead-in for it. Since the NFL now doesn't start the season until after Labor Day for the same reason (lower ratings), they have to finagle a way to get it so the men's final is played on Sunday if at all possible- which hasn't happened the past few years.

    It's also a matter of economics- it's estimated that putting a roof on the main stadium court could cost $300 million US, and even rebuilding one of the smaller courts with a roof would cost $150-$200 million.

  • Comment number 55.

    The Roof on Wimbledon's Centre Court was a novelty. It was, hopefully, never to be used. It was installed to ensure the tournament finished on schedule, what abut the outside Courts. Let's be real... the entire All England Club needs the biggest umbrella (roof) over its expansive area to achieve that. Flushing Meadows is no different at times, but by contrast, has - on occasions - been the venue of blistering heat - about which nothing is said or done. Mother Nature deals us a bum hand at times... live with it.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hands up anyone who think Murray will start making excuses for not winning another Grand Slam - And his entourage (Jonathan Overend included) tell us at length how the wet courts and the weather were the real cause. Really, has Wimbledon never seen rain delays ? One year with the roof can't wipe out memories of that 5 day marathon that nadal played to beat soderling! I'd love to read the archives of this website here to see if anyone made a big issue of it back then! Poor Andy - He can't afford to play 4 days on the trot - What are the chances he will like working for a 5 day week like the rest of us?! To be fair, there's only a half a million check at the end of it - and another million reasons why we should believe a Grand Slam victory is 'just around the corner' as this writer put it in in 2009!

  • Comment number 57.

    About time the Americans realised that the BIGGEST arena does not mean BEST because best it is not.

    At least Wimbledon recognised that it had to have a roof ... I don't believe the USTA recognise that at all - not when they think that having ground covers over the courts is "ugly". This could be the 4th year running when the final is held over until the Monday ... unless of course, if it should become necessary, the tournament director's great idea, that the players play 2 best of 5 set matches in one day! Not a matter of scheduling says he, but a matter of fitness! He should get a life ... preferably one away from tennis!

  • Comment number 58.

    @Fed4Ever : Well if you don't watch the final on Monday then don't - There is plenty of freedom of choice on the british tv spectrum - to be fair why would you miss Big B / Late Night Roulette trash and other such tv gold for a sport that is seemingly so close to your heart?! As far as farcical goes I am sure SW19's (I mean who calls a place by its postcode?) farcical epic 5000 game last set between mahut and isner and somehow tried to make believe that it should make compelling viewing ?!

  • Comment number 59.

    Utter nonsense. The rain delays are part of the game, they add variety and can provide an unexpected twist as the playing surface deteriorates. The fixture-backlog is fantastic for the viewer, because it compresses the action into a shorter space of time, so we can see players tested to the limits of endurance, rather than just grinding through the timetable.

    Seriously, giving players spiked shoes and making them play in a monsoon makes more sense than building a roof. This is meant to be one of the top tournaments in the world for goodness sake! If the players can't handle the uncertainty rain brings, we should question their merit to be participating in the tournament.

  • Comment number 60.

    The USTA have no idea how to organise their tournament. It's by far the worst planned of the 4 majors. No roof on the showcourt, no court covers anywhere. They are a laughing stock! Not really a surprise though as the US cannot really stage any major international sports tournament. I can't think of a single one they do well.

  • Comment number 61.

    Diamondrush, let me explain what happens when you screw up a schedule and overplay top players. They get injured. The almost equally stupid scheduling of back to back Masters saw Djokovic physically disintegrate in the Cincy final having played too many matches too close together, especially given the intensity of the mens game nowadays.
    Is this what you regard as the best outcome, a weird version of last man standing? Personally, I'd sooner the best player won the big events
    As for the organisation of the USO, seeing them try to deal with the seeping crack on Armstrong with, at various times, masking tape, a hoover and a towel spoke volumes about the hopeless amateurism of the USTA and I don't blame Roddick for going ballistic. The tournament referee, who can't take all the flac for this, looked like he wanted the crack to open up a bit more so he could jump into it.

  • Comment number 62.

    I've been watching the U.S Open for more than 35 years. Witnessed great matches at forest hills and the first ever final at the newly erected stadium at Flushing Meadows in 1978. Watched Bjorn Borg lose to Jimmy Connors in straight sets because he had severe blisters on his hands (a little known fact). That year men's matches were best of 3 in the early rounds before U.S open tournament egg heads finally realized, this is a grand slam and we need best of 5 sets for the men in what is touted as, "the toughest tournament in the world to win". Wow, what a concept.

    Over the years the U.S Open has grown into the corporate monster it has become for better and worse. They have the technology and money to build a roof (s). The arrogance of it calling itself the best grand slam is laughable. All 3 others are superior in term of seedings, scheduling, conditions, and player concerns. And oh yes, they all a roof ( the French will have one soon). As an American, I'm appalled at how our national championship has been run and looks to the rest of the tennis world community. I'm so happy the top mens players have finally spoken up publicly. Changes need to be made and soon.

    Currently, the U.S Open is a black eye to the other grand slams. Wise up and build a roof, schedule better and stop cow towing to cooperate sponsors and TV deals to the detriment of the players.

  • Comment number 63.

    Jonathan Overend is talking about Serena Williams conduct in the final. Could be right to say so, but he is forgetting why we have the challenge system. Is it not because the umpire failed very badly in one finals of the Us-open? It was the match against Capriati I guess. So don't tell me anything about umpires. My reaction would be: If you like her to win, let her win and I would have grabbed my bag and leave the court. Don't get me wrong, my favorite was Stosur and Iam very happy for her.

  • Comment number 64.

    Grand slam tennis should be played outdoors in the elements. When the wind blows at the Open Championship that is considered part of the charm and challenge of golf. Middle Sunday is sacred, but Wimbledon will build a roof over a grass court?

    A few years ago a poll of pro players said that the US Open was their favorite slam. This would probably take into consideration scheduling and player concerns. Wimbledon was by far the most coveted title.

    It's good that the men's final is here on Monday. There is room for change and flexibility at every tournament. A roof shouldn't be part of any solution.

  • Comment number 65.

    Just make the players play in the rain ....

  • Comment number 66.

    I think they tried that. The players didn't like it!

  • Comment number 67.

    Sorry if someone has already pointed this out but one of the frustrating things about Wimbledon is the 1pm start on the show courts, two hours after the other 3 slam's show courts get underway. I know Wimbledon loves to uphold it's tradition but they moved the start time forward from 2pm all those years ago so why not do it again and give us a bit more tennis!

  • Comment number 68.

    TopSpin,

    Of course grand slam tennis was meant to be played out doors. No body would argue this point. BUT, there are times when we would like to see tennis played on scheduled days (talking about fans, sponsors, and TV) rather than watching redundant rain delayed old stale matches. Adding a roof to flushing Meadows would only enhance the event and make it more powerful , not the other way around. I do kind of like the Monday final, though. Something about it not competing against the NFL makes it more special and enticing for the the general viewer, not just a tennis fanatic. Sort of like the NCAA basketball or football games. Maybe the U.S open should be the first slam to embrace this every year. A Monday spectacular (on its own) final featuring the two survivors of super Saturday. The criticism the U.S open gets for forcing the two semi-finalist to play on both Saturday and Sunday would be erased AND give the two finalist the rest they need. It's the perfect solution for everyone.

    USTA think about this. I'm all for a men's final on Monday every year. It would make the U.S open stand far apart from all the other calender events.

    The U.S Open on Monday = The American Super Bowl, Brilliant.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sponsors! Sponsors! Sponsors! Ys they provide a lot of finance, but can we all just for a minute just talk sports and not finance? We make these sponsors lokk as if they are more important than sport itself. Did we have the sports before the sponsors or sponsors before the sport? Sponsors jump on the bandwagon of a good show for the sake personal interest. They need the sports for ther growth and survival. I dare and sponsor to pull out of a big competition like the US open because there is no roof, lets see if their competitors will not jump at the opportunity
    Today is get the centre court covered, tomorow it could be the training courts, where does it end? Probably the whole world living in covered cities cause the weather is either too hot/cold/windy to take a walk. Weather conditions is not in the control of man,thank God, if not sponsors will control what conditions suite them and the rest of us just have to follow.

 

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