I’m paraphrasing the famous John McEnroe quote and that’s for a very good reason: we know that the US Open has serious issues with scheduling, most of it coming from the Super Saturday – Sunday men’s finals, which is more and more criticized by players, experts and fans alike, as the players don’t have much rest between the semis and the finals, especially the finalist of the second half. Well, it seems like the United States Tennis Association (USTA), who manages the US Open, is considering making changes to the scheduling.
But the one change that comes out the most is the one that really shouldn’t be: making the Monday men’s finals permanent. After all, it’s been four consecutive years of Monday finals for these gentlemen, so why change that?
The problem there is that the Monday finals is about the worst option at the moment, as the weekend just after is a Davis Cup weekend, among which are played the semi-finals of the World Group, but also the World Group playoffs, so some of the top players are committed to play for their country just then.
We saw this year, for instance, how it affected an already injured Novak Djokovic, but also an already tired Rafael Nadal. Although Nadal won both his rubber matches, he was clearly exhausted on court. As for Djokovic, the images of him in great pain and retiring in his decisive rubber against Juan Martín del Potro are among the most sadly unforgettable of the year.
And the USTA is considering making this permanent?
The calendar is generating a lot of talk this year and it is for a reason. Too many events, too many important events too close to each other (mainly regarding Grand Slams and Davis Cup ties), and changes are most definitely necessary. However, making the Monday finals at the US Open permanent would be a terrible mistake. First of all because of the Davis Cup (if their scheduling doesn’t undergo necessary changes as well), but also from a tennis fan perspective, as the finals is played when most of the continent is still at work.
If, as tournament director Jim Curley mentions, all options are on the table, I’m really hoping that they will end up discarding the idea of a permanent Monday final. Why not give up the Super Saturday altogether and start the tournament on Sunday if they keep on insisting on playing the first round over three days (or just play the first round over two days, for that matter)? I know that money has a big role to play in that, but I should think, at some point, that player safety should prevail over that. And I know that is a pretty naive hope on my end, don’t tell me.
Then again, I also hope the players will have their say in the matter. And I hope that this permanent Monday final nonsense will be killed in the egg. That would be the most ridiculous thing if it happens.