Tennis

Mixed reactions over US Open move

Ankita Raina.

Ankita Raina.   | Photo Credit: -

Cancelling the qualification phase is bad, feel top Indian players

Following the approval from New York State on Tuesday, decks were cleared for the 2020 US Open to be held behind closed doors from August 31 to September 13. But the move has elicited mixed reactions from the Indian players.

There will be no qualifying in singles and the doubles draw will be reduced to 32 from 64. Strict distancing norms mean that there will be no player entourages, something Novak Djokovic didn’t approve of.

“It’s a tough situation for all, so trying to salvage something is not a bad idea,” said Sumit Nagal, India’s top-ranked singles player (No. 127). “The big players are not happy with it, but they have millions in their bank accounts, something that 99% of tennis players don’t. Lower-ranked players and a few doubles players will like to give themselves a chance to earn some money.”

There is a high probability of Nagal and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (No. 132) getting direct entries because of potential player withdrawals. In 2019, a main draw appearance guaranteed $58,000 and with the organisers committing to close to 95% of the prize money pot from last year, the amount can be a life-saver in these desperate times.

Also read: US Open: various options being explored

“It is good that a tournament is starting, but not a good thing that there is no qualifying,” said Prajnesh. “Giving out ranking points is bad because not everyone will have a fair chance to compete.

Even players in the main draw may not be able to travel because of restrictions in many countries. It would have been ideal to have it a little later, but if I get in and am able to travel, I will consider playing.”

Big blow

For Ankita Raina, India’s top women’s singles player (No. 163), the cancellation of qualifying is a big blow. “The return of the tournament is a positive, but for players who don’t get a direct entry, the qualifying event of a Grand Slam is an opportunity to win points and prize money. It helps us travel for the rest of the year. I hope Roland Garros (September 27-October 11) gives us that chance.”

“To be honest, tennis has never been fair for players ranked outside the top-100 in terms of prize money. COVID-19 has highlighted the disparity. I hope there will be better distribution in the future.”

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 1:49:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/mixed-reactions-over-us-open-move/article31854742.ece

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