Monday 27 March 2017

US Open: Murray and Nadal point finger at organisers over safety

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal accused US Open organisers of compromising their safety after a brief, but controversial period of play at Flushing Meadows yesterday morning.

The players finally took to the court around 12.30pm (5.30 Irish time) following poor weather that saw the whole of Tuesday's schedule washed out and a delay to the start of play yesterday.

Only the three main courts were able to start, with Nadal facing Luxembourg's Gilles Muller on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Murray meeting Donald Young on Grandstand and Andy Roddick taking on David Ferrer on Louis Armstrong.

But play was only possible for approximately 15 minutes before the rain began falling again. By that point Nadal was already 3-0 down, Roddick led Ferrer 3-1 and Murray and Young were on serve, with the American leading 2-1.

It quickly became clear the players were not happy about being asked to play when there was still moisture in the air, and Nadal, Murray and Roddick all went to see tournament referee Brian Earley to complain about the situation.

Defending champion Nadal was particularly strong in his criticism. "They called us on court to start the match and the rain hadn't even stopped," he said.

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"I understand the fans want to see tennis, but the players' health is the most important thing and we do not feel protected. We have to fight to change things, to have enough power that we don't have to go on court when it's raining."

Organisers were particularly keen to get the fourth-round matches involving Nadal, Roddick, Murray and John Isner played because that section of the draw is a round behind. Murray said: "When we went out on court it was still wet, and the balls too. It doesn't make sense to get out there for seven or eight minutes and I don't think that will happen again.

"I knew that Rafa was going to see (Earley). I said I would go in and mention it as well, then Andy (Roddick) came. It wasn't a party."

Roddick added: "I think if it's up for discussion, it's probably not playable. We wanted to make it known we probably didn't want to be put in that position again. I understand they need to put tennis on TV, but first and foremost the players need to feel safe."

The weather has played havoc at the US Open for the past three years, with the men's final being held on the third Monday each time, and, with the forecast for the rest of the week also poor, that again seems a distinct possibility.

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Irish Independent

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