A Fan’s Perspective on the US Open’s Crappy Scheduling

Sure, rain happens! But I have never seen a tournament so unwilling to confront its’ many scheduling shortcomings as the US Open! In a perfect world, the schedule is already messed up because of the whole “Super Saturday” thing. The original “Super Saturday”, whereby the Men’s semi-finals were played on the Saturday before the Sunday final WITH the Women’s final sandwiched in-between, was created for TV. Sometimes, depending on how the matches played out, the last semi-final would finish extremely late… putting that finalist at a severe disadvantage. Though the Women’s final has been moved to prime-time and is no longer sandwiched in the middle, the second winning semi-finalist is still clearly at a disadvantage. When Agassi lost in the finals to Sampras for their last Grand Slam meeting, Sampras had come through in straight sets by beating Sjeng Schalken. Andre had come through a hard-fought battle with Lleyton Hewitt, winning in 5 sets. He’d had previous struggles in beating Hewitt prior to this match, and it was a great win… except that he had no legs for the Sunday final. Pete was able to slice his serves wide and hit angled groundies that Andre had no chance of reaching. Andre had no legs left after a brilliant win. Who was served by this “Super Saturday” scheduling? The TV audience who watched a lackluster final? Andre? Pete? Nobody, no, no, and definitively YES.
Rain washed out play on Tuesday for this second week of the US Open. When play resumes today, there is potential for some of the men to play a best 3 of 5 set match for 4 of the next 5 days. The match quality will clearly suffer for those guys, and the odds become extremely low that they will be able to maintain their best tennis under those circumstances. I’ll just pass on the whole discussion of roofs, other than to say that the USTA shot itself in the foot by building a stadium that was too big for much of anything. It’s too big for fan enjoyment… too big to think about building any type of covering structure… too big to manage the wind that whips through it… just too big. It’s not only Ashe, though, without a roof. There’s Armstrong and the Grandstand. Neither is covered. Both are smaller and could be covered, presumably, easier than Ashe. But no discussions of covers have been discussed publicly, and I don’t understand why a tournament that is so rich and makes so much money won’t make some kind of investment in that direction. Rain happens during tournaments, and we can all accept that. But there are just too many factors in play at the US Open that need to be addressed. TV schedules dictating tournament match play, the lack of a roof on any stadium court, “Super Saturday”… it all needs to be addressed, so we don’t end up with a lackluster men’s final because one guy is well-rested, and the other guy has been jerked around by scheduling. That is, if we have a Men’s final on Sunday at this point AT ALL… AGAIN! The 2009 final was played on the following Monday. The 2010 was played on the following Monday. For the sake of fairness (for Rafa and some of the other guys), I hope this one is delayed until Monday, too.

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