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Is winning the 2020 US Open the same achievement as winning any other Grand Slam? – Match Points excerpt

In the latest edition of Match Points, former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg discuss whether this year’s US Open champions will forever have an asterisk next to their names.

September 5, 2020
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The 2020 US Open has a slightly depleted player field.

Some big names missed out on the draw, many for coronavirus-related reasons, opting not to travel to New York in the middle of a pandemic.

Women’s world No 1 Ash Barty and No 2 Simona Halep both chose not to enter, with defending champion Bianca Andreescu missing out because of injury.

Similarly, the 2019 champion on the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, decided to stay in Europe and prepare for his beloved Roland-Garros, while Roger Federer is still recovering from surgery.

So does that mean that whoever wins this year will not be considered a true Grand Slam champion?

Writer Ben Rothenberg dismisses the suggestion.

“There are so many Grand Slams that had minimal attendance from top players,” he said, harking back to the 1970s and 1980s. “We’ll remember the context of 2020.”

‘Draining mentally’

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli points out that the requirements of winning this year’s tournament are just the same as every other year.

“There are a lot of outside things that make it so difficult to be on the court and compete,” she said, adding: For the ones who will win the US Open, it will be difficult to win Roland-Garros, it will be so draining mentally. Absolutely you can call them Grand Slam champions.”

However, both point out that players were still able to travel in and out of the USA – and if a Grand Slam took place under more restricted arrangements, then the situation would be different.

“We have a lot of very credible players playing great,” says Rothenberg. “If the Australian Open happened and only Australian players can play, that’s a wildly different scenario.”

Bartoli agrees.

“If you had a US Open with [just] US players, it’s very difficult to call it a Grand Slam.”

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