By Ann Liguori
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Very surprising that the tournament had the matches start at 12.30pm despite the weather still ‘misting.’ The maintenance crews work very hard to dry the courts but if it is still misting, there is an element of danger for the players who can slip and slide and suffer potential injuries.
The matches lasted for approximately 15 minutes before the rain picked up and the players left the courts.
The USTA released a statement saying that “All parties, including the players and tournament, want to get the US Open back on schedule. As of 12 noon today, the best information available to us indicated the chance of a two-hour window without rain. Unfortunately, not all light rain and mist shows up on radar. We have experienced referees, and they decide if courts are fit for play. Conditions may be not ideal, but still can be safe. However, if a player or players feel that conditions are unsafe, we listen to them, as we have always done, and the referee uses that information as part of his/her assessment on whether to continue or halt play.”
Any amount of moisture, even a slight mist, makes these courts slippery and unsafe. Nadal was late to come out of the locker room to start his match against Gilles Muller. He apologized to his opponent and told ESPN that he was taping his fingers and getting ready, that he did not have much notice to prepare. But he was very apologetic. Tournament referee Brian Early told a media officer that he took full responsibility for sending Muller out, thinking that Nadal would immediately follow. As it turns out, Nadal did not come out until approximately 8-9 minutes later, making his opponent wait.
The matches were then postponed again: Gilles Muller had broken Nadal in the second game and leads three to love in the first set. Andy Roddick has a three to one lead in his first set against fifth seed David Ferrer. And Donald Young was up, 2-1 on serve against fourth seed Andy Murray in that first set before the players left the court due to rain.
Soon afterwards, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray were seen leaving referee Brian Early’s office. An assumption on my part proved correct, as the players voiced their concerns about being sent out to the courts to play while it was misting. Nadal was noticeably angry. Just the fact that these big three ‘name’ players – Nadal, Roddick and Murray — were meeting with the referee signifies they had some sort of issue with playing while it was still misting out. They obviously know how slippery the courts can get under those conditions.
In an ESPN interview that Pam Shriver did with Rafael Nadal, Nadal said he was not happy that they sent them out to play. Nadal said they (the tournament) are working for the money, not for the players…they spent 45 minutes drying the courts but the courts were never dried. Nadal went on to say that “we don’t feel protected….we can not accept this.” Andy Roddick also commented that if it is up for discussion, it probably means that the courts are not playable. “We made it known that we don’t want to be put in that position again,” Roddick told Shriver in an ESPN interview. “We understand the business side of it, but first and foremost, the players need to feel safe.”
Be sure to catch Ann’s tennis reports on WFAN 660 am. For more information on Ann, visit www.annliguori.com.
What do you think of the decision to play? Leave a comment below.