US Open to be held behind closed doors after New York governor gives go-ahead

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev to win the men's singles at the US Open in 2019

The US Open will be held without fans from 31 August to 13 September but suggested restrictions on players' travelling teams will not be enforced.

The Grand Slam will be held at Flushing Meadows, despite some players voicing concerns about travelling to New York.

But there will be no qualifying and no mixed doubles under plans approved by the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

"We can showcase tennis as the ideal social distancing sport," said US Tennis Association chief Mike Dowse.

There have been no professional tennis events since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the details in the US Open's health and safety plan, which has been widely shared on social media, were:

  • Players travelling to New York will be entitled to two rooms in an official hotel outside Manhattan. No more than two people will be allowed to a room, but competitors will also have the option of renting a private house outside Manhattan at their own expense.
  • Players will not need to quarantine on entering the United States, but will be tested before they begin their journey to New York.
  • Tests will then be carried out once or twice a week during their stay, along with daily temperature checks.
  • Everyone at the venue will be expected to wear a face mask, unless playing, practising or working out.
  • The draw for the men's and women's doubles will be half the usual size (32 instead of 64).

The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases and the highest death toll in the world and New York is the hardest-hit state, with more than 30,000 deaths.

Cuomo wrote that "extraordinary precautions"external-link would be in place to protect players, including extra locker room space.

"We recognise the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times," a US Tennis Association (USTA) statement read.

"We will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks."

Australian player Nick Kyrgios called tournament organisers "selfish" for pushing ahead with the event, while defending men's champion Rafael Nadal has previously said he "had little desire" to play the event.

World number one Novak Djokovic had called the originally proposed protocols "extreme" and said it would be "impossible" if he was only able to bring one member of his team to the site.

However, under the plans revealed on Tuesday the USTA says it is yet to determine how many will be able to accompany a player to Flushing Meadows.

Another of the changes is that the Western and Southern Open, which usually takes place in Cincinnati just before the US Open, has been moved to New York and will also be staged at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre from 22-28 August.

The USTA is putting up $60m (£48m), the majority of which will be on offer as prize money for the two tournaments.

But $6.6m will be set aside for the ATP and WTA tours, to allow them to compensate players being denied the chance to compete by the restriction in numbers.

Ranking points will also be on offer - something which is sure to further upset players who are not able to take part.

However, both the ATP and the WTA Tours could resume before the two tournaments in New York, with a more detailed summer and autumn calendar expected imminently.

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