Nate Chura is senior tennis pro at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn and covers the U.S. Open for WNYC.
After two days of rain delays caused tennis stars Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to complain, the second biggest show court of the U.S. Open was put out of commission.
When Roddick, the 2003 champ, began Day 11 of the U.S. Open at Louis Armstrong stadium, he noticed a small crack with water seeping to the surface. “That's when I realized that we had a problem,” he said.
The problem was a perpetual leak, due to the rain, and after several failed attempts to stop the water, the referee told players the only other available court was the modest 584-seat Court 13.
Roddick, the pied piper, led everyone -- fans, officials, and his opponent, David Ferrer -- to the fourth-round match. Just a day earlier, Roddick’s bold decisiveness was showcased when he and others complained to refs after playing for 16 minutes in inclement weather.
For years, tennis players have complained that, unlike many other pro sports, there is no designated commissioner of tennis, an objective decision-maker who can point the game in the right direction. And in his post-match press conference, Andy Roddick was asked about whether he might be the right guy for this job.
“It's something that interests me just because it's a glaring hole,” Roddick said. “I think we are the only sport without a players' union of major sports. So it's something that, yeah, if I was approached, yeah, I think I would.”
Andy Murray told me that decisions such as whether players play in the rain vary depending on the event.
At ATP Tour events — tournaments owned by the men’s tour — players have more of a say in everything.
At Grand Slam events, like the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French and Australian Opens, the players have much less input. In these big tournaments the International Tennis Federation (ITF) plays the central role. And herein lies the conflict.
“The ATP and the ITF don't like each other very much,” Murray said. “There's always going to be some issues like what happened yesterday.”
The U.S. Open is not an ATP event, or for that matter a WTA event — the women’s pro tour association. Murray said the ATP Tour manager with him in the locker room on Wednesday told him it was still raining outside and the players shouldn't go out and play.
“The referees here,” Murray said, referring to the U.S. Open, “it's different. It's the ITF. They want us to go out on the court. If it was at an ATP tournament we wouldn't have been on the court.”
As the day session matches were coming to an end, officials released an advisory revising the U.S. Open schedule. For the fourth year in a row, the men’s championship final will be played on a Monday. It seems then, at this point, any future change to game will have to wait until Tuesday.
“The U.S. Open is probably more important than the players,” Nadal said Wednesday, “but the players are a big part of this show. …The problem, in my opinion, is not the organization of the US Open. The problem is we [players] don't have enough power in these kind of tournaments. That's what have to change very soon.”