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Players sound off on US Open draw shrinkage and removal of qualifying
The situation for players ranked outside the world's Top 100 could be even tougher when the ATP and WTA tours resume.
Published Jun 18, 2020
For many players ranked outside the Top 100, their financial security hinges entirely on the opportunity to compete in tennis’ most lucrative tournaments, the four Grand Slams. This year, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the USTA announced the 2020 US Open will proceed as scheduled, but with several significant changes. Most notably, the tournament has decided to cancel the men’s and women’s qualifying, as well as the mixed doubles tournament. The men’s and women’s doubles draws will be reduced from 64 to 32 teams.
All in all, the cancellation and shrinkage of just the qualifying and doubles will result in a loss of 256 qualifying entries and 64 doubles teams. Needless to say, many lower ranked players struggling to earn a living on the exceedingly challenging pro tours are displeased and discouraged.
Players have been sounding off on social media voicing their displeasure with the lack of concern for their financial well-being. It’s also worth noting that the Western and Southern Open, also taking place at Flushing Meadows in place of its usual home of Mason, Ohio, will hold a qualifying tournament, likely to give the lower ranked US Open competitors who will miss the Masters 1000/WTA Premier main draw cut a chance for more match play.
In his tweet, Mitchell Krueger suggests that the US Open has caved to the demands of top players like Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem, who expressed concerns over playing a Grand Slam without a full entourage. The wheelchair tennis has also been cancelled, sparking outrage from Dylan Alcott, who won the 2015 and 2018 wheelchair singles titles at Flushing Meadows and is the reigning doubles champion. Alcott called the decision "disgusting discrimination."
Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski has also weighed in on the tournament’s changes.
“Not having qualifying and a smaller doubles draw increase the lack of parity in tennis. We don’t want to disproportionally move the needle even further, creating a bigger gap between those at the top and those who need the income and opportunity for growth,” Dabrowski said.
Valeria Savinykh, ranked No. 127 in doubles, will surely lose any chance of competing in this year’s US Open.
“It’s complete nonsense,” Savinykh told Tennis.com.“They don’t have any tournaments for us to play. Only like 150 people will be playing and the rest of the tour will not. Ninety percent of the tour won’t have the chance to compete in the tournaments. It’s like they only want the Top 100 to play and the rest of us to stay at home.”
Even Nick Kyrgios (who doesn’t seem keen on playing the 2020 US Open anyway) got in on the action.
Fellow Aussie James Duckworth expressed his displeasure with the lack of communication between the ATP and it’s players. A sentiment we’ve seen shared time and time again in the past few years.
The tournament will provide $6.6 million to the ATP and WTA Tours for players who will not get to compete in the event because of the restrictions. How exactly the funds will be allocated has yet to be determined.
Ryan Harrison chimed in with a different stance. “Tennis is a business, and the ATP tour supports the challenger tour financially. The US Open largely contributes to all of the financial backing of the US Challengers. Without the US Open there would likely be no Cincy or Washington, and a massive hit on US challengers for years ahead.”
Jon Wertheim said it best on Wednesday’s edition of Tennis Channel Live, “We’re in a new world here, we’re going to have imperfections and we’re going to have injustices. It’s a fluid situation and we might be in a very different place in 60 days.”