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Asterisk or not: Is the 2020 US Open a legitimate Grand Slam? – Match Points excerpt

The 2020 US Open is fast approaching but public opinion has still not solidified around one nagging question: can this tournament be considered a legitimate Grand Slam event?

August 19, 2020
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The hottest topic in tennis these days centers around the US Open, and whether or not the eventual champions in 2020 will be truly deserving of a Grand Slam title. With draws significantly diluted due to coronavirus fears, it’s a fair question to ask. Six of the WTA’s top 10 players have already withdrawn and three of the ATP’s top 10 are out. So should we break out our asterisks and place them next to each singles winner in September?

Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times and the No Challenges Remaining podcast says no, winning this year’s US Open will be an extremely difficult task.

“Whoever wins this US Open will have done something incredibly tough,” he told Match Points host Josh Cohen. “Prevailing at this is not necessarily going to be easier than winning a normal Grand Slam.” 

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli feels differently.

“You can’t really say that you won a Grand Slam when you have 20 out of the top 32 players not coming, for example, if that is happening,” she said. “You know it is just a regular tournament that you won, and you are happy that you won and you are happy that you have been able to get through all the difficulties and you navigated through all of this, but you can’t really call it a Grand Slam when there is that many people not showing up at all.” 

It’s not a normal US Open admits Rothenberg, but the fact that the players will have to clear so many hurdles mentally, emotionally and physically to earn this title, elevates the tournament’s status in his eyes.

“The amount of mental stress that is going to be on these players, the fitness challenge of this particular tournament, the emotional challenges, the lack of fans and people around you. It is going to be an incredibly hard one. It is going to be different, for sure, but I don’t  think it is going to be a lesser title. It will be a different achievement to win this US Open.”

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