US Open might be ‘missing some of the players’, but field ‘exceeded’ the expectations from USTA

US Open tennis balls

A couple of the world’s top players won’t feature at this year’s US Open, but the United States Tennis Association (USTA) chief Mike Dowse says the field has “exceeded our expectations”.

After several months of “will it or won’t it happen” headlines due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 hard-court Grand Slam remains a go thanks to tireless work from organisers.

It will be sans a few high-profile players, though, as defending champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, and world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and world No 2 Simona Halep have pulled out due to Covid-19 fears.

Simona Halep puts her ‘health at the heart of her decision’ as she pulls out of US Open

USTA CEO and Executive Director Dowse is pleased that they still have a “really strong” field.

“In context of the times and how different the world is, I couldn’t be happier. It’s exceeded our expectations,” he said. “We are missing some of the players, but overall the numbers are really strong on the strength of our field. I’m just excited to see some great tennis that we haven’t seen for several months. People are starved to see these great athletes competing in these two big tournaments.”

He added: “I’m really optimistic that we’re going to look back at this in a few months and really be proud of what everyone accomplished, what this has done for tennis.”

There is a strict “bio-secure bubble” for players, non-playing staff and officials in New York ahead of the Western & Southern Open and US Open, but there was one positive coronavirus test this week with a non-player returning a positive result.

One non-player returns positive coronavirus test in New York tennis bubble ahead of US Open

“We expected this to happen,” Dowse told The Associated Press. “Mathematically, we expected to have a positive, if not more than one. So we did anticipate this and we have put very specific protocol in place to prevent this from spreading broadly. … Our number one priority is to take care of this person first, and secondly to prevent the spread from going any further.”

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