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The US Open begins with a scandal: all because of the rain and the roof! But this problem cannot be solved.

Date: October 2, 2023 Time: 08:23:39

The American Grand Slam tournament was the third of the four majors on which the roof was built. Center court, dubbed Arthur Ashe Stadium, had a retractable roof in 2016, and a couple of years later the tennis complex’s second-largest court, named after legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong, got a roof. It would seem that the presence of these roofs should solve many weather problems, but in reality everything is more complicated than it seems at first glance.

This week, because of the rain, the participants and participants in the qualifying matches suffered. Qualifying matches were interrupted both on Thursday and Friday. Also, a hiatus was formed on August 25 after the players played only a few matches. Among other tennis players, the Russians also suffered: Vera Zvonareva (by the way, finalist of the US Open – 2010 and three-time champion in doubles and mixed doubles), Valeria Savinykh and Diana Schneider. In theory, the organizers could host some of the matches indoors, but there are several nuances. What type? Let’s figure it out.

Qualifying is not played on Center Courts

In principle, the rating is largely a separate story. At Wimbledon, for example, their matches aren’t even played on the tournament’s outer courts: all the bouts take place in Roehampton, which, like Wimbledon, is one of London’s many suburbs. There this has a logical reason: the organizers take care of the grass, which is already quite trampled in the second week of the main tournament. Imagine their condition if the playoffs were also played on the same courts!

Competitions on hard and clay courts, of course, do not suffer from these problems, but even so, qualifying matches are not usually played on Center Courts. It’s the logic of simple audience interest and trade: who’s going to buy tickets to watch second-tier, mostly unknown players fight each other? The fact is that in all major competitions, tickets at least for Center Court (and more often for the second most important one) are sold separately, and with general tickets you can get to all other sites.

US Open

Photo: Benno Schwinghammer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

And the Americans also like to put on shows whenever possible, so it’s quite logical that they choose exhibition matches: Kim Clijsters with Caroline Wozniacki, James Blake with Tommy Haas, Carlos Alcaraz with Francis Tiafoe played this week on the pitch of Louis Armstrong etc . For some reason, the only qualifying match that was held in this arena was the match between Timofey Skatov and James Duckworth. As for Arthur Ashe Stadium, it was not used for any games this week.

Unequal conditions due to ceilings at the start of tournaments

Another point is connected with the fact that it is physically impossible to send all players indoors during qualifying, as well as in the first rounds of the main draw. There are too many matches and there won’t be enough rooftop courts anyway. At the same time, if someone is not planned to be transferred to the central arenas indoors, while others are left to wait for the weather by the sea, this will already be dishonest from a sporting point of view in relation to the latter. Also, indoors, the conditions of the game are changing. Such an influencing factor on the flight of the ball is that the wind disappears, the speed of the balls increases, there are more aces and shots across the field. In general, the conditions are close to those that exist in tournaments held in closed rooms (mainly in the second half of autumn and winter in Europe).

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By the way, the first sunroof in tennis appeared in 1988 and was not built to protect against rain. They built it in Melbourne, at the Australian Open, where the main problem is the merciless scorching sun. Due to the heat, in the Australian summer (in January), the roof closes many times more than due to rain. The second “Helmet” to have a roof built on was Wimbledon; it appeared there only in 2009. In those years, the US Open suffered so much rain that the men’s final was postponed five (!) times in a row from Sunday to Monday, and as a result, the organizers were forced to decide to build a roof on the court. central. It costs a fortune: 150 million dollars!

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Big spend on retractable roofs

It is the high price that is one of the main reasons why many tournaments below the Slam rank still do not have a ceiling. At Arthur Ashe, of course, it was above average due to the sheer size of the arena itself; consequently, the roof had to be made large and more powerful supports were needed than for roofs in more modest stadiums. sizes. But still, it is impossible to build a retractable roof for a price cheaper than several tens of millions of dollars (the average price is about 60-80 million dollars), and this is many times higher than the prize fund of any Masters, the richest tournaments in this country. The category has prize money of about $10 million.

However, after rain-soaked Rome this spring, organizers promised to have the roof finished by 2026. But in Montreal, where Lyudmila Samsonova suffered two weeks ago (and not only her, but the Russian who made it to the final, which he reached two hours after the semi-final and lost by a wicket), a few years ago there were disputes over the advisability of spending approximately $70 million on a retractable roof, and no final decision was made.

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In general, expecting the construction of roofs in all tennis tournaments is rather a utopia. The Masters, as well as competitions sponsored by rich countries (such as in China or, if tennis is interested there too, potentially Saudi Arabia), can still find money for retractable roofs, but smaller tournaments definitely won’t cover those expenses. they will simply go bankrupt if they try to save themselves from the rains in this way. Therefore, players and fans will still have to endure breaks due to the vagaries of the weather. Another thing is that you can make more efficient use of the time between rains, knowing the exact weather forecast, and make better schedules, something that this year was not enough in Montreal itself, and where there are ceilings, more matches can be played under they.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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