independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Tennis: Murray delighted player power earns US Open rest day

Defending champion Andy Murray has hailed a victory for player power following confirmation that the finalists at next year's US Open will have a day off after their semi-finals.

The change means the year's fourth and last Grand Slam will run into a third Monday, when the men's final will take place.

The women's semi-finals will be played on the second Friday of the tournament, followed on Sunday by the final, while the men's last-four matches are scheduled for the Saturday, affording the winners a free day before their title match.

It was also announced that prize money would rise by $4m (€3m) to $29.5m (€22.4m).

The challenge of playing up to five sets on back-to-back days was an issue the players had taken up, and world No 3 Murray, who won his maiden Grand Slam in New York this year, is glad they have been listened to by the United States Tennis Association.

Murray said on usopen.org: "I'm pleased that the USTA has modified the US Open schedule to include a day of rest between the semi-finals and final.

"Together with the prize money increase, it's good that they've taken on board the players' concerns."

Defending women's champion Serena Williams added: "Both the prize money increase and the addition of a day of rest are great for the players. "These moves make the tournament stronger than it's ever been for all players."

Explaining how the decision was reached, USTA chairman and president Jon Vegosen said: "We recognise the increased physicality required to compete at the highest level of the sport, and we have responded to the players' request for a scheduled day of rest between the singles semi-finals and finals.

"The record increase in US Open prize money and the changes in the next year's schedule are aimed at rewarding the players' talents and accommodating the rigours of the modern professional game."

The 2013 US Open will run from August 26 to September 9.

Meanwhile, Murray has revealed he wants to continue his partnership with coach Ivan Lendl for the next five years.

The Scot also won Olympic gold last season under the guidance of the eight-time Grand Slam winner.

The pair have been working together since the start of the year and Murray claimed both are planning far ahead. "Ivan and I have a very good relationship, it's very honest and open, that's why it has worked so well and why both of us are planning long term," he was quoted as saying in a number of newspapers.

"We spoke at the end of last year and it was much more short term – 'let's see how the first few months of the season go'. Now it's, 'What are we going to be doing in four or five years' time?"'

Murray also admitted that only since his Olympic heroics has he felt able to walk around with his head held high. He added: "Since the Olympics I just feel a bit better about myself. I find it easier to walk around with my head up, whereas before I was always head down, not wanting anyone to see me or say anything.

"Maybe I felt that having lost in Grand Slam finals I was letting whoever it was down. I know I had been reminded every day for the last six years that it's this long since someone from our country won a Slam.

"So there was part of me probably that felt a little bit of responsibility. It's nice not to have worry about that any more and see what else I can achieve."

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