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Should the US Open let top players bring their entire entourage? – Match Points excerpt

Match Points is a talk show about tennis, hosted by Josh Cohen for Tennis Majors. In this episode, Josh asks the panel how they feel about the US Open and whether players should be allowed to bring their entire teams with them.

July 16, 2020
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Our Match Points panel consists of former Wimbledon champion and world No. 7 Marion Bartoli, ATP world No. 225 Noah Rubin (founder of Behind the Racquet), and American journalist Ben Rothenberg.

The guests joined Cohen to give their takes on the 2020 US Open — specifically on whether the tournament should let players bring as many people on their team as they want.

Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal.

Bartoli, a former Grand Slam champion (Wimbledon 2013), said players have to have their full teams around them for health reasons and in order to maximise the quality of play throughout the tournament. Rubin and Rothenberg disagreed.

Bartoli: “They have to have a hitting partner; then you have to have your tennis coach behind you to help you; you need to have your physio and fitness coach for two weeks. You can’t survive seven matches in a row without having your fitness coach with you and helping you. If a Grand Slam goes on, it has to go with a proper team because otherwise you are actually putting yourself at risk to get injured because you’re not receiving the right treatments or you don’t get enough physical training or you don’t practice well enough…. I think if the US Open goes on, they have to allow the regular team of a player.”

“If every player is allowed to bring one person, nothing is uneven.”

Rubin argued that large teams are unnecessary.

“I think one our biggest issues are players themselves. I’m listening to the top players say, ‘Hey, I’m not sure I can play without four people on my team.’ And I’m like, ‘They’re literally putting up the same prize money…and they’re giving you a chance to have your physio at your hotel room so you can have him morning and night. And that’s not good enough for you?’” If the US Open is going to have to cut corners and say, ‘Hey, now you can bring four or five people’ I think this is going to be the problem.”

Rothenberg said that it would be fair for everyone if players can only bring one person.

“If every player is allowed to bring one person, nothing is uneven. Yes, maybe we won’t see the most gladiatorial, world class tennis ever, but it will be a fair competition. Normally players ranked 100th in the world cannot bring four people, so it’s automatically unfair. It’s biased (toward those) who have more money to spend…. This opportunity to make it equal I think is great…. If you want to be coherently safe during a pandemic, reducing the number of people is the way to go. Backing down from that to appease the stars is a terrible idea.”

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