U.S. Open scheduling and the endless discussion
The first time I came to the U.S. Open, in 1990 I think, there was a discussion with Open executives about the "unfairness" as seen by many European journalists, and a lot of players, to be fair, of the schedule at the end where both the women and the men play their semifinals and finals on consecutive days.
At the other major tournaments -- the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon -- the women's semifinals are Thursday with a Saturday final and the men have Friday semifinals with a Sunday final.
Players argue that having a rest day offers a better chance for good tennis to be played in the finals.
Rafael Nadal, who had to complete his rain-delayed quarterfinal here Saturday morning and may now be playing three consecutive days, pointed out why he would prefer the Friday-Sunday schedule.
A quick memory prod: at the 2009 Australian Open, Nadal spent five hours, 14 minutes winning his semifinal over Fernando Verdasco.
"I think the players prefer not to play Saturday and Sunday," Nadal said. "If I have, for example, the match, if one player have the match like I had in the semifinals of Australia this year, you lose the final. It's impossible to win the final, believe me."
Nadal did come back and beat Roger Federer in the finals at Australia.
Such details, however, don't make U.S. Open officials say they'll take into consideration what the players want over what CBS wants. And CBS, the major television partner, wants its so-called Super Saturday where, traditionally, two men's semifinals happen in the afternoon and the women's final is at night.
U.S. Open tournament director Jim Curley said: "We're always open to talking about ways to improve the tournament. But in this particular situation, we feel that weighing all of the factors in our efforts to promote the sport, this is the best schedule we have."
In other words, Rafa, better not play a five-hour semifinal in New York.
And the reason there was a long chat today about the topic and also about if and when the U.S. Open might put a roof over one of its courts (not soon) was because there was a rain delay. So far Super Saturday for CBS has entailed running matches such as the Federer-Andre Agassi final from 2005 and the ever-popular five-set Jimmy Connors win over Aaron Krickstein in 1991.
And for those who want to read every word of what was said, check here.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Roger Federer hits tennis balls into the stands after his victory over Robin Soderling on Thursday. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press