U.S. Open flags off in storm of controversies
The U.S. Open flags off today after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of Wimbledon Championships and the postponement of the French Open to October. While the top seeded Djokovic is the clear favourite for the men’s title, there is no sure pick for the women.
The warm up tournament at the same venue offered assurance that many top ranked players would turn up for the U.S. Open. In the men’s final, Canada’s Milos Raonic faced an uphill task. Although he won the first set, he failed to break the jinx in his eleventh consecutive loss to the world number one player, Novak Djokovic who clinched his 80th career title.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lifted the Western & Southern Vase when an injured Naomi Osaka could not play the finals.
The women’s tune-up up event was rocked when Japanese star Naomi Osaka decided to pull out of the semi-final match against Elise Mertens of Belgium in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. The organisers and Women’s Tennis Association officials quickly held consultations and canceled matches on Thursday over the same issue.
On the men’s side, Djokovic stepped down as President of the Players Council and announced the proposal to form the Professional Tennis Players Association. Although he has many players backing the proposal, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have expressed opposition, while Andy Murray suggested that the status quo be maintained to give the ATP management chance to look into players’ requests for inclusion in key decisions.
The fears of infection were heightened on yesterday afternoon when French player, Benoit Paire tested positive for COVID-19 during a mandatory test in the Bio-secure bubble at the venue. The world number 22, seeded 17 in the draw, tested negative on arrival in New York and lost in the first round of the tune-up tournament.
Paire has been placed in solitary confinement for 10 days while contact tracing is being carried out. He was billed to play against Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak in the first round.
Djokovic is seeking his 18th Slam title that will make him close up on Nadal’s 19 and Federer’s 20. Serena Williams is chasing her 24th major title to tie the record of Australia’s Margaret Smith Court. While the Serbian ace is the clear favourite, the third-seeded Serena has tough opponents in her path.