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U.S. Open: A new world in sports

By Jacob Akindele
19 September 2020   |   4:14 am
The Grand Slam tournament in New York has always been a trailblazer. The four major tournaments in tennis are played in Melbourne, Australia, Paris France, London United Kingdom...

The Grand Slam tournament in New York has always been a trailblazer. The four major tournaments in tennis are played in Melbourne, Australia, Paris France, London United Kingdom and New York, United States of America. Before 1968, three of the tournaments were called National Championships while the fourth was branded The Championships, Wimbledon. As the first event that was open to professionals and amateurs, the US National Championships was renamed the US Open in 1968 when Arthur Ashe and Margaret Court emerged the first champions in tennis’ open era. Australia followed suit and the French National championships was branded as Rolland Garros.

The 2020 US Open introduced new ways into tennis competition as a consequence of the Covid-19 Pandemic that has changed everything in the world. The grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were a bio-secure “bubble.” closed to the public. Competitors were quarantined in the Stadium and the designated hotel. All players and officials were tested every 48 hours. On the eve of the Opening Day, Benoit Praire of France tested positive and was removed from the draw and placed in mandatory seclusion for two weeks before he left the USA.

Where did the running costs come from, without thousands of spectators buying tickets and the companies paying huge sums for hospitality cubicles in the midsection of Arthur Ashe Stadium? The main sponsors of Prize money for each event came through. There was huge income from global television for viewing rights. That has always been the invisible source of revenue for sporting events.

The finalist in the women’s event, Victoria Azarenka was the last mom standing. Other moms who fell along the way were Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters who lost in the first round. For Victoria, it was a third loss in the title match, following her defeats by Serena in 2012 and 2013.In the battle with Osaka, she won 8 of first 9 games while Osaka won 6 of the next 7 games to win the second set. Asked about how she held her nerves while serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, Osaka said: “Two years ago, maybe I would have folded. I’m more of a complete player now.”

Zverev, however, folded in the unfamiliar terrain of his first Grand Slam Final. After Thiem clinched the third and fourth sets, Zverev played a defensive game, merely keeping floating balls in play and hoping for errors from an unrelentingly aggressive Thiem. That was the critical difference in the end.

Mate Pavic of Croatia and Brazil’s Bruno Soares won the men’s doubles. Germany’s Laura Siegemund and Russia’s Vera Zvonareva won the women’s doubles. Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s wheelchair singles. Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid won the men’s wheelchair doubles. Diede De Groot of Netherlands won the women’s wheelchair singles. Yui Kamiji of Japan and Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain won the women’s wheelchair doubles. Sam Schroeder (Netherlands) won the quadrangular wheelchair singles. Australia’s Dylan Alcott and Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne won the quadrangular wheelchair doubles.

George Floyd’s six year old daughter said: “My daddy changed the world.” The change covers every aspect of human endeavour. The world of sports is no exemption.

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