Muscles were flexed off the court to good effect on Thursday
as player power once again prevailed at the US Open. And once again it was shop
steward-in-chief Rafael Nadal who was at the forefront of the complaints.
A day after having led a player revolt after having been
forced to play in dangerously wet conditions, the Spaniard was again at it,
this time expressing his displeasure about the hectic schedule he was facing
due to the backlog of games caused by inclement weather in New York.
After dispatching Gilles Muller, Nadal faced up to the prospect
of having to win four matches in as many days to retain his title. And it
wasn't a scenario he was happy about.
Nor were Andys Murray and Roddick, for whom an equally
gruelling schedule awaited, should they have made it through to the final, that
But the trio's complaints did not fall on deaf ears and a
couple of hours later, lo and behold, the USTA made an announcement that the
tournament would spill over to a third week for the fourth year in a row.
Given that the remaining matches could all have been
shoe-horned in and the tournament could easily have been completed by Sunday,
the decision to bow to the players' demands gave a clear indication of how
powerful they have become in the modern game.
Shifting the final to Monday was always going to a
contentious decision considering the interests of other parties, chiefly the
fans and CBS television, yet the players' wishes appear to overridden all else.
But it's probably the right decision, for two reasons.
First, the issue of players' safety has cropped up all week
amid the appalling weather in the Big Apple and perhaps this was an extension
of that concern. Four games in four days could simply prove too much for one
body to take (although if there's one physical specimen that should be able to
handle that kind of punishment, it's Nadal).
And second, the playing field has been levelled. When you're
talking about a Grand Slam final, you want to see two players at their peak
going at each other, without other factors inhibiting either one's play.
Would the same decision have been without the players'
complaints? The timing of the USTA's announcement suggests not and that they
were indeed influenced by comments made by the disgruntled players.
Is that a good thing for the game? Who knows for sure at this
point in time, but it may well prove to be a dangerous path to tread.
- - -
Like Nadal, the all-powerful Roddick has been asserting himself
on a regular basis this tournament, most recently when he got on court in his
match against David Ferrer and soon noticed a bubble forming on the surface.
Officials tried to mop up the underlying water that was
causing the problem, but with little success, and play on Louis Armstrong was promptly
But Roddick was keen to crack on so he urged officials to
move the match anywhere within the facility. They agreed, and Roddick for the
first time in years found himself on an outside court at Flushing Meadows, an
experience he savoured (we think).
- - -
Quote of the day:
"We had some Van Morrison wannabe playing music in the courtyard, so we
had a Brown Eyed Girl soundtrack for about two games there. There was a guy
scaling the fence in the back for a second. A couple people wanted to do
commentary from the service line...." Playing on an outer court is not
quite the US Open experience Roddick has become accustomed to.
Lawsuit of the day:
Four umpires have filed a lawsuit against the USTA, claiming they were underpaid for years by misclassifying
them as independent contractors. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on
behalf of hundreds of other umpires who have worked for the USTA over the past
six years and who were not paid the wages they were due, including overtime.
disappointed that the umpires have chosen to exploit the US Open and take advantage
of the goodwill generated by the tournament by using it as a platform to
advance a claim against the USTA," a USTA spokesperson said.
Fan of the day: Even
Roger Federer couldn't resist cracking a smile at the antics of this rather enthusiastic
fan, who was clearly schooled at the nearby Fame dance academy at some stage
during the 1980s.
Tweet of the day: "Woke up at 2am to watch my
boy Jo - and its been raining for half an hour at least and now I can't get
back to sleep aggggggghhhhhhhhhh..." Gael Monfils is as frustrated as the
rest of us with the infernal rain.