Five weeks from today could mark the eve of the US Open should the hard-court major proceed in New York. Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Johanna Konta are two of the players who intend to be there if all goes to plan.
Murray captured his first of three major singles titles at Flushing Meadows eight years ago. This year, the US Open is being staged as part of a three-week bubble at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, after the Western & Southern Open was moved from Cincinnati in response to COVID-19 conditions. The former world No. 1 is preparing for the doubleheader to move forward, but appears circumspect at best in playing both tournaments.
“My training the past week and during the event this week is to try to get in shape for the US Open. If it wasn’t happening, my schedule would be different. Mentally, I’m planning for it to go ahead, but I’ll be apprehensive,” he said ahead of the Battle of The Brits Team Tennis competition in London.
“I might play qualifying in the Cincinnati Masters, or I could take a wildcard. The last time I played the week before a Slam I would have been 19. I’m not particularly keen on playing back-to-back. For a lot of the guys, it will be five, six months, but for me it’s 10 months since I last competed properly.”
Murray hasn’t played at the tour level since the 2019 Davis Cup Finals, where a pelvic bone bruise suspended his comeback from a right hip resurfacing. At the end of June, Murray competed in the first Battle of the Brits exhibition, losing to Britain's Top 2-ranked players Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund in decisive match tiebreakers. He was upbeat about his game and health, despite withdrawing from his third-place match (after going 2-2 at the event).
“For the two years before I had the operation I couldn't extend my leg properly, so my right leg would always bend when I went to extend it and that was affecting my serve a lot. I had to change my ball toss and was not able to drive up properly,” Murray shared with the BBC. “But now, because it does extend properly, I am able to serve well again and am able to serve as hard as I was in my mid-20s. Given I didn't know I was going to be able to play again, [it] has been really positive.”
Konta, who reached the quarterfinals at the 2019 US Open, is provisionally slated to take part in the WTA’s official reopening with the clay-court event in Palermo—which begins August 3. However, the three-time former major semifinalist hinted that her plans may soon change.
“Palermo for me is not full certain. I did enter it. I am giving myself until tomorrow (Monday) to see whether I go or not,” she said. “Ideally I’d like to play Lexington and then go to New York for the Cincinnati tournament and then the US Open. That’s always been my ideal schedule.”
Lexington is scheduled to begin August 10, along with another WTA International tournament in Prague. The inaugural Top Seed Open, the WTA's first event in Kentucky, boasts Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka among its current commitments.
Konta and Murray will first take part in the Battle of The Brits Team Tennis, a seven-day event beginning Monday. Konta features on Team British Bulldogs, while Murray finds himself on Team Union Jacks—co-captained by his mother Judy.