The USTA has announced that the US Open will begin on August 31, one week later than originally scheduled. The Open will serve as the second Grand Slam of the year, following the Australian Open. The French Open, traditionally the second Slam on the annual calendar, was rescheduled for late September to follow the US Open. Wimbledon, perhaps the most prestigious of tournaments, was canceled in 2020 for the first time since World War II.
In a historic decision for the tennis industry and sports fans around the world, the USTA is proud to announce that both the 2020 US Open and 2020 Western & Southern Open will be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC) in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., this summer. Hosting these tournaments marks an important moment for the sport of tennis, the New York market and the global sporting community as tennis returns to action.
This move creates a month of high-level international tennis at the iconic NTC. The Western & Southern Open, normally held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, will be held just prior, August 19 to August 28. The US Open will be held August 31 to September 13, the originally-scheduled dates for the main draw of the event.
“These two events are the summer’s biggest tennis blockbusters in the U.S., and we are thrilled for the players, our fans, and all of our partners, that we will be able to mark the return of tennis,” said Mike Dowse, USTA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. “These tournaments also serve as an inspiration to tennis players of all levels, encouraging them to get out and play, given the social-distancing nature of our sport.”
As part of this decision, the USTA unveiled a comprehensive health and safety plan that has been approved by New York State government officials. The comprehensive plan was created by the USTA’s US Open team, with input from the WTA and ATP, and in conjunction with the USTA Medical Advisory Group, other medical experts, and noted security officials.
“First and foremost, our decision-making has been guided by ensuring the health and well-being of all who will take part in the 2020 US Open,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Patrick Galbraith. “After educating ourselves through consultations with experts, and following near round-the-clock planning for three months, we are confident that we have a plan that is safe, viable, and the right thing to do for our sport. This historic undertaking will provide a tremendous boost to the entire tennis industry and community, a boost so needed in these trying times.”
The USTA’s approach to all decisions surrounding the hosting of both the 2020 US Open and 2020 Western & Southern Open followed three guiding principles. In all three instances, the USTA determined that the necessary criteria to fulfill the guiding principles was met, which included:
Ensuring the health and safety of all individuals associated with, or part of, the tournaments, and mitigating potential risk factors associated with COVID-19.
Balancing decisions on whether the events would not only be safe, but if holding the events would benefit the sport of tennis, including the fans, athletes and the global tennis industry.
Determining whether the tournaments could take place in a financially-viable manner for the USTA and for the ATP and WTA players.
Hosting the two events in one centralized location mitigates risk and allows for one cohesive medical, training and competition environment, with safety measures to be put in place, including testing, mitigation measures, sanitization, and other protocols. In light of the global pandemic, the two events will be modified in a variety of ways. Due to the inherent issues with holding events which would bring more than one million visitors to the site over the duration of the two tournaments, the decision was made to hold this year’s events without fans in attendance. The size and format of the events will also be modified with this same goal of limiting the number of individuals on site at one time. This includes players, their entourages, staff, broadcasters, and all others associated with the on-site workings.
“The decision to hold the 2020 US Open without fans was not an easy one, but ultimately it was the correct one,” said Stacey Allaster, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA and US Open Tournament Director. “To mitigate risk, we must minimize numbers on-site. Though we will not have fans on our site, we will engage with tennis fans around the world in new and exciting ways with the help of our global broadcast partners, and all our US Open sponsors.”
The US Open will feature the Main Draw Men’s and Women’s Singles events, each with the traditional 128-player draw size, and Men’s and Women’s Doubles events, with 32 teams in each competition (down from 64 teams, but limited to Doubles-only players). Since the overall plan requires limiting the number of individuals on-site, the Mixed Doubles, Juniors and Wheelchair competitions will not be held in 2020. The Western & Southern Open will feature its traditional format in Men’s and Women’s Singles, an increased draw of 48 for the Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Tournaments (up from 28 and 32, respectively), and an increased draw size of 32 teams for Men’s and Women’s Doubles (up from 28 teams).
In hosting the two events, the USTA has committed $60 million in total compensation to players. In addition to prize money and other compensation to athletes competing in the two events, the USTA has also made the decision to provide approximately $6.6 million in additional relief grants and subsidies due to the decision to not hold the Qualifying Tournament and the reduction of the Doubles draws. These funds will be allocated to the WTA and ATP, which will then make the determination of how to distribute these funds and/or utilize them to provide replacement playing and ranking point opportunities. Previously in 2020, the USTA contributed $1 million to an international player relief fund.
With the formal health and safety plan approved, the USTA will work with tournament broadcast rights-holders and partners to expand the way these events are delivered to the fans at home around the globe, in greater and more innovative ways than ever before. Details of these plans will be announced in the near future.
The event has great potential to serve as a backdrop for tennis history. Both Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will have the opportunity to tie the all-time record for total Grand Slam championships. Williams needs one major to tie Margaret Court, and with Roger Federer sidelined, a win by Nadal would tie the celebrated Swiss champion.
The 2020 US Open is scheduled to begin on August 31, through Sunday, September 13. For more, visit www.usopen.org.