US Open confirms 128-player singles draws, no fans, no qualifying, no mixed doubles

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The US Open confirmed on Wednesday that this year's event will take place at Flushing Meadows, between August 31 and September 13, though fans will not be allowed on site.

In a Zoom press conference on Wednesday, conducted from Arthur Ashe Stadium inside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the USTA confirmed the news that this year’s event will take place on the scheduled dates, August 31-September 13, albeit behind closed doors.

The Western and Southern Open will also be played at Flushing Meadows the week before the US Open, allowing players to stay in one place for three weeks. But because of that, there will be no qualifying events at the US Open, which will have its usual 128-player events in the men’s and women’s singles, but will have a reduced 32-pair draw in doubles and no mixed doubles, juniors or wheelchair events to limit the number of people on site, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though some players, including world No 1 Novak Djokovic, No 2 Rafael Nadal and women’s world No 1 Ash Barty have expressed doubts about whether they will make the trip to play, Serena Williams said on Wednesday that she is excited to return.

In Wednesday’s press conference, headed by new USTA president Stacey Allaster, the USTA confirmed all the details that emerged on Tuesday in a two page memo, with elements of its plan for health and safety, including bullet points on entourages and player accommodations, Covid-19 testing, player dining, compensation, transportation and use of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which will open on August 16. 

US OpenHere is a rundown of some of the important elements: 

Dates and draw notes: 

  • Cincinnati (Western and Southern Masters) Begins on Saturday August 22nd, with the finals held on Friday August 28th. 
  • US Open main draw begins on Monday August 31
  • No mixed doubles will take place at the US Open 
  • Men’s and women’s doubles will be reduced to 32 pairs. 
  • A $6.6 million fund has been created to address the needs of the players impacted by the lack of qualifying, mixed doubles, and diminished doubles. The ATP and WTA Tours will each receive $3.3 million to disperse. 
  • Total compensation for Cincinnati and the US Open (including $6.6 million fund and hotel costs) will be $60,000,000. 

Travel and Entourages 

  • All players will travel to New York on their own. 
  • US Open claims they have received assurances from the Federal government that no players will have issues entering the country. 
  • Players are permitted to rent homes in the New York area, just not in Manhattan. 
  • US Open is “Exploring social distancing protocols on site to determine numbers and locations” but will allow players up to two hotel rooms (one paid by the player) with “up to three” people allowed to accompany them. 

Covid-19 Testing

  • All players will be tested before departing for the US and throughout the competition. Each player will be tested on arrival and at least once per week, the USTA said Wednesday. 
  • Frequency of testing: 1-2 tests per week. 
  • Daily temperature check and symptom questionnaire. 
  • Players required to wear face masks on site unless practising, competing, or training. 

The US Open has left themselves room to alter the plan by adding that all protocols are subject to change. 

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