2020 US Open tweaks: Electronic line-calling, no qualifying, no mixed doubles, three guests per player

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The 2020 US Open will be the first Grand Slam to be played following the coronavirus pandemic and the United States Tennis Association has announced a raft of changes for the event.

After initial concerns that the tournament could be cancelled, New York governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed earlier this week that the US Open will go ahead, but “USTA will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff”.

The hard-court Grand Slam will be held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centere at Flushing Meadows from August 31 and September 13.

So what are the “extraordinary precautions” that USTA have taken?

Will we see fans at Flushing Meadows?

Sadly, the 140th edition of the US Open will be a behind-closed doors tournament as no fans will be allowed at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

It will be the first time in history that no fans will be allowed to attend a Grand Slam.

The “warm-up” Cincinnati Masters, which has been moved from Ohio to Flushing Meadows, will also be staged without spectators.

Empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows - US Open

What about the players’ entourage?

Players will be allowed up to three guests, but it is still unclear how many support staff they will be allowed to have on-site at Flushing Meadows. Initial reports suggested only one entourage member will be allowed, but USTA is still to make a decision.

Going hand-in-hand with that, players will be allowed to book up to two rooms at designated hotels for the duration of the US Open. However, the USTA will pay for one of the rooms with the player having to foot the bill for the other one.

There is also another option as players can rent a house outside of Manhattan.

Have there been any changes to the main-draw events?

The men’s and women’s singles as well as the men’s and women’s doubles are the only competitions that are officially on the bill after USTA decided to cut the mixed doubles, junior and wheelchair events.

However, the wheelchair competition has been given a lifeline following sharp criticism from the world’s best wheelchair players and the International Paralympic Committee as the USTA has decided to review the policy.

Wheelchair competition given US Open lifeline as organisers open talks with role players

What about qualifying?

There will be no qualifying for the 2020 tournament and the top 120 players in the world rankings will get an automatic entry. The other eight players will receive wildcards.

Are there any changes to the men’s and women’s doubles?

It will be a 32-team event and players who have entered the singles will not be allowed to play in the doubles.

What about officiating?

Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium will be the only courts that will use line judges with electronic line-calling to be used on all the other courts.

The number of ball people will also be reduced from six to three on all courts except Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Anything else?

Players are likely to be tested for the coronavirus via nasal swabs when they arrive in New York and once per week for the duration of the tournament.

According to The Associated Press, “If there is the possibility that the tournament ‘bubble’ has been breached by the virus, there could be testing every other day”.

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