World number six Stefanos Tsitsipas has shared his US Open concerns with the final Grand Slam of the year still scheduled to go ahead in September, while also believing tennis should only return when things return to normal: he’s not a fan of staging events behind closed doors as matches would not have the same intensity.
The ATP initially suspended the Tour for six weeks on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but have since extended that ban through to July 31.
Earlier during the pandemic, there wasn’t much optimism that the season would resume but since then, the chances of resuming the season in some form have improved.
During a recent interview with Greek media, the 21-year-old spoke about the negative impact of playing events without fans in attendance.
“My personal view is that it is important to have these tournaments with people and not in-front of empty stands. Say you win such a big event as a Grand Slam.
Without fans, adrenaline and the feeling is not the same. Fans are the one that bring energy, fill the stadiums and create the atmosphere we have. It could, of course, be a tournament without people, but it would not offer the same feeling and intensity.”
Tsitsipas understands financial drawbacks, shares US Open doubts
Nonetheless, Tsitsipas is aware of the financial ramifications that an extended break from tennis worldwide will have on multiple businesses, not least the US Open.
They remain keen on staging the event this year and are aiming to host it as initially scheduled between August 31 and September 13.
Wimbledon was cancelled, while Roland Garros organisers were heavily criticised after moving its original May dates to September 20-October 4. This would mean just a week’s rest between the two Slams and many are uneasy about that prospect.
Tsitsipas meanwhile, said it’s important that patience is shown during these unprecedented times.
“For me, they have to wait until things get normal again, get back to the pace we were before and not think about the financial part, which is definitely the biggest factor.
“For example, in the US Open there are a lot of sponsors, a lot of financial interests and that’s why I think they want the tournament to take place. I totally understand that, but for me it’s important they wait until everything goes smoothly, without the big changes we’re not used to playing with. We don’t know what to expect from that.”
In the United States alone, there have been 112,448 total COVID-19 related deaths and just shy of 17,000 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.
The US Open organisers plan to fly players over to the United States, where they would have to follow strict health restrictions.
Tsitsipas said he would describe the trip to New York as “very dark, metaphorically, playing in a cloud without any life,” and it remains to be seen whether their ambitious efforts to stage the Grand Slam will go ahead.
World number one Novak Djokovic described the restrictions as extreme, while world no.2 Rafael Nadal said they cannot resume playing until the situation is completely safe.