EXCLUSIVE: Greg Rusedski insists the US Open should be played in 2020

Kevin Palmer
US Open Flushing Meadows

Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski believes tennis could attract a whole new audience if this year’s US Open goes ahead as planned, as he urged the game’s authorities to get the sport back underway as soon as possible.

With all tennis suspended until the end of July due to the coronavirus pandemic, the US Open in New York remains on the calendar and is due to get underway at Flushing Meadows on August 31st.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has suggested he is open to sporting events being staged behind closed doors and Amazon Prime analyst Rusedski believes tennis needs to be planning for a swift return to action as the world tries to reboot following the global shutdown.

Amazon Prime team, leading a revolution in televised sport

“We need to find a way to get the US Open on this year, without or without spectators,” the 1997 US Open finalist told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview. “So long as we can do it in a way that is safe for all the players and everyone involved, and I think we can, we have to try and do it.

“Think about the millions of fans around the world who will be watching if we get tennis back. This is a chance to bring tennis to an even bigger audience than usual and even if we don’t have fans in the stadiums, we will have them in their millions around the world watching on TV.

“It would be a unique experience, even if there were no fans there it would be something we would remember throughout time, that we played a major during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The site of the US Open is massive and with no spectators there, social distancing would not be a problem. Corporate suites will not be used, there is enough space for everyone involved in the event and there could also be enough space to designate a separate area to every player involved in the event if required.

“We still have June, July and August before the US Open is due to being played and by then, a lot of businesses will have opened up again and so long as the players feel safe and we can do it the right way then we need to find a way to get tennis back.

“A lot of the players have posted videos this week showing them getting back to training and we want to see where they are all at and get some matches back on our screens.”

Empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows - US Open

Roger Federer has suggested he would not be keen to return to action in empty stadiums, yet Rusedski suggests all involved in the sport need to adapt to a new landscape that requires the sport to come together to plot a route forward.

“Roger expressed his views on wanting fans there, but I would definitely be willing to come back now if I was still on the tour,” he continues.

“I look at the new-look Davis Cup finals last year and even though it was a fantastic first year for the new-look Davis Cup with an amazing final, let’s not forget how they blacked out the fans because there were low crowds outside of the matches featuring the hosts Spain. No one complained about the matches not having too many fans in there because the tennis was spectacular, so we can play our sport without fans.

“The first example of sport coming back in the UK will be the Premier League and I’m assuming that will start up next month. Football has much more contact than tennis and if they can get matches back on, there’s no reason why we can’t do that same in tennis.

“To get any live sport back on television would be welcome for a number of reasons and as tennis and golf are the two easiest sports to play while observing social distancing guidelines, we need to look at how we do it. If you are going to try and experiment to get sports back, then tennis and golf are the two sports we should do it with.”

Amazon Prime is the home of tennis in the UK and will screen the ATP and WTA Tours live, as well as the US Open.

Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer

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