US Open backtracks on wheelchair omission

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Andy Lapthorne and Dylan Alcott
Andy Lapthorne (left) beat Dylan Alcott (right) in the US Open quad singles final in 2019 before they teamed up to win the doubles title

The United States Tennis Association is now offering to stage wheelchair events at this year's US Open after a change of mind.

It admitted it should have worked with players when developing a plan for this year's tournament.

Australia's quad world number one Dylan Alcott had described an initial decision to scrap the wheelchair events as "disgusting discrimination".

Details of the offer to players was revealed by France's Stephane Houdet.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion said the players were presented with three options in a meeting on Friday, and are set to put them to a vote on Monday.

If they decide they do want to play in New York during the Championships, they will receive 95% of last year's prize fund.

The alternatives are a delayed tournament in Orlando in October, or $150,000 in compensation to be shared between the players to make amends for their events not going ahead.

A plan to omit wheelchair competition from the US Open this year, as part of a reduced event, was initially announced by the USTA earlier in the week.

"The Association should have communicated directly, and worked in a collaborative manner with the wheelchair athletes when developing the plan for the 2020 US Open, as it had done with both the ATP and WTA," the USTA said in a statement on Friday.

"The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF [International Tennis Federation] to explore a number of potential scenarios for the wheelchair competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition.

"The USTA expects to gather player feedback on their perspective and work with the ITF to finalize an approach to the 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition."

Andy Lapthorne, who won the singles and doubles in the quad division at last year's US Open, said the initial decision felt "like we're going back years".

But in response to the USTA's statement, the 29 year old said "Thank you, let's move forward together."

The US Open will be played behind closed doors, with no singles qualifying and reduced doubles draws, from August 31st.

It will be the first Grand Slam to be played since the professional tours were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 11th.