Wheelchair competition given US Open lifeline as organisers open talks with role players
US Open organisers have promised to look at ways the wheelchair competitions can take place this year following a barrage of criticism about how their axing from the schedules was handled.
The United States Tennis Association announced on Wednesday that a streamlined version of the US Open would take place behind closed doors from August 31 to September 13, with all wheelchair events among those to be scrubbed.
Paralympic champion Gordon Reid, a four-time winner in the men’s doubles at Flushing Meadows and two-time singles semi-finalist, said he was given no forewarning that this would be the case and found out the news on Twitter.
Massively disappointed to find out on twitter this morning that the @usopen plan on cutting wheelchair tennis from this years tournament. The wheelchair players have had ZERO communication or consultation from either the ITF or the Grand Slam around this decision.
— Gordon Reid (@GordonReid91) June 18, 2020
The International Paralympic Committee was also critical of the decision, with president Andrew Parsons saying the USTA should not be using the coronavirus pandemic as “an excuse to discriminate against a group of players”.
A USTA statement said: “(On Friday) the USTA, in conjunction with ITF wheelchair tennis leadership, conducted a very productive call with the wheelchair athletes who traditionally compete in the US Open wheelchair competition.
“The USTA acknowledged that the association should have communicated directly and worked in a collaborative manner with the wheelchair athletes when developing the plan for the 2020 US Open, as it had done with both the ATP and WTA.
“The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF to explore a number of potential scenarios for the wheelchair competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition.
“The USTA expects to gather player feedback on their perspective and work with with the ITF to finalise an approach to the 2020 US Open wheelchair competition.”
The news could go some way to appeasing the likes of Reid, who said on Friday night: “Positive discussions with @usopen today. They’re looking to make it right with the help of the players.”
Reacting to the initial exclusion, Parsons said on Thursday: “We urge organisers to reconsider this decision which could potentially undo years of great work to promote and showcase the sport of wheelchair tennis.
“We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up multiple challenges for sport event organisers all around the world, but such challenges should not be used as an excuse to discriminate against a group of players and not offer inclusive competition for all.
“There has been tremendous progress in recent years to advance wheelchair tennis and promote inclusion, not least by USTA and at the US Open.
“However, just as we cannot have a situation where athletes are barred from sporting events on the grounds of race, gender, nationality or sexuality, they should not be stopped from competing because they play in a wheelchair.”
Second generation ATP Pro Ben Shelton taking stock after big season
Ben Shelton is the youngest of 13 Americans in the top 100.
Novak Djokovic ‘still No 1 player in the world’ and ‘heavy favourite’ for 2023 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic will be the man to beat at the 2023 Australian Open, says Aussie legend.
Stats from Iga Swiatek’s incredible 2022 season – featuring bagels and breadsticks from the Iga Bakery
Some great statistics from Iga Swiatek’s brilliant 2022 season.
‘Regular father’ Rafael Nadal on parenthood: ‘More tired, sleeping less’
Rafael Nadal on life as a parent.
Novak Djokovic looking ‘fresh’ and could extend career by a few years after 2022 debacle, says pundit
“I feel like he’s added another year or two to his career.”
Rafael Nadal beats Casper Ruud before teaming up with Gabriela Sabatini in mixed doubles
Some off-season fun involving Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud, Gabriela Sabatinia and Gisela Dulko.
Carlos Alcaraz has the ‘potential to achieve great things’, says Rafael Nadal
“Someone very special has arrived,” says Rafael Nadal.
Tennis influencer Rachel Stuhlmann making waves with huge social media appeal
Rachel Stuhlmann’s Instagram has exploded in popularity, with her 232k followers earning her the title of the No 1 tennis influencer.
Rafael Nadal jokes Casper Ruud will have to ‘call’ Novak Djokovic if he wants to change result of epic final
If you could change one result in tennis history, what would it be?
Andy Murray confirms first event of 2023 season with Novak Djokovic also expected to play
Andy Murray’s first event for 2023 revealed.