Mixed reactions from Indian players over US Open move

Following the approval from New York State on Tuesday, decks were cleared for the 2020 US Open to be held but cancellation of qualifying is bad, feel top Indian players.

There is a high probability of Sumit Nagal (in frame) and Prajnesh Gunneswaran getting direct entries because of potential player withdrawals.   -  REUTERS

Following the approval from New York State on Tuesday, decks were cleared for the 2020 US Open to be held from August 31 to September 13 behind closed doors in New York. The Cincinnati Masters, which is set to precede the Major at the same site, will mark the revival of competitive tennis after COVID-19. The move has however elicited mixed reactions from the Indian players.

There will be no qualifying in singles and the doubles draw will be reduced to 32 from 64 at Flushing Meadows. Strict distancing norms mean that there will be no player entourages, something Novak Djokovic didn’t approve of.

READ| Rohan Bopanna concerned about US Open player restrictions

Life saver

“It’s a tough situation for all, so trying to salvage something is not a bad idea,” said Sumit Nagal, India’s top-ranked singles player (No. 127). “The big players are not happy with it, but they have millions in their bank accounts, something that 99% of tennis players don’t. Lower-ranked players and a few doubles players will like to give themselves a chance to earn some money.”

There is a high probability of Nagal and Prajnesh Gunneswaran (No. 132) getting direct entries because of potential player withdrawals. In 2019, a main draw appearance guaranteed $58,000 and with the organisers committing to close to 95% of the prize money pot from last year, the amount can be a life saver in these desperate times.

“It is good that a tournament is starting, but not a good thing that there is no qualifying,” said Prajnesh. “Giving out ranking points is bad because not everyone will have a fair chance to compete. Even players in the main draw may not be able to travel because of restrictions in many countries. It would have been ideal to have it a little later, but if I get in and am able to travel, I will consider playing.”

READ| New York Governor gives the go-ahead for US Open in August

Big blow

"For Ankita Raina, India’s top women’s singles player (No. 162), the cancellation of qualifying will be a big blow. “The return of the tournaments is a positive but for players who do not get a direct entry, the qualifying event at a Grand Slam is an opportunity to make more points and prize money. It helps us travel for the rest of the year. I hope Roland Garros (September 20 – October 4) gives us that chance.”

“To be honest, tennis has never been fair for players ranked outside top-100 in terms of prize money. This pandemic has highlighted the disparity. I hope there will be better distribution in the future.”

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