Tempers fray as rain keeps players off court

'All you think about is money,' furious Nadal tells organisers

Flushing Meadows

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray led a protest at the US Open here last night as the leading players voiced their anger at being forced to play on wet courts which they said were dangerous. As rain drenched here for the second day in succession, long-standing resentments by some of the players came to the surface. Brad Gilbert, Murray's former coach, said it was "hopefully a watershed moment when the players can come together."

By the time the men's singles matches were called off for the day shortly after 5pm only a quarter of an hour's play had been possible, which was at least more than the previous day's wash-out. The players were sent out to play at 12.30pm during a brief dry spell. They complained that the surface was wet and slippery and rain forced them off within a quarter of an hour.

Donald Young was leading Murray 2-1 on Grandstand Court, Nadal was trailing Gilles Müller 3-0 in Arthur Ashe Stadium and Andy Roddick was leading David Ferrer 3-1 in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Nadal was said to have told officials as he left the court: "It's the same old story. All you think about is money."

Nadal went immediately to complain to Brian Earley, the tournament referee, and was joined by Murray and Roddick. "We don't feel protected," Nadal told ESPN afterwards. "Grand Slams earn a lot of money and we are part of the show. They are just working for that, not for us. They know that it's still raining and they call us on court. That should not be possible.

"The court was dry for 10 minutes, but they knew that we would have to come off after 10 minutes. Yet they still put the players on court. We understand the fans are there, but the health of the players is important."

Murray said the surface had been dangerous. "When we went out on the court it was still raining," he said. "The back of the court was soaking wet and the balls were really wet too. Everyone that I spoke to mentioned it to the umpire and they just said: 'No, it's fine.' But it doesn't really make sense to try and go out for seven or eight minutes and then have to come back inside."

Roddick was asked by Murray if he wanted to join him and Nadal in their meeting with Earley. "I think it probably hits home a little bit more when there are three of us in there as opposed to one," Roddick said. "I certainly understand they need to put tennis on TV and I understand the business side of it as well, but I think first and foremost the players need to feel comfortable and safe."

John McEnroe sympathised with the players. "Rafa Nadal is one of the all-time greats," he said. "He's trying to defend his US Open title. What the hell difference does it make whether he comes out at 12 or 12.10?"

Players have long complained about the scheduling of matches here, particularly as there are no roofs or even tarpaulins to protect the courts. Not only do the men dislike the fact that the semi-finals and final are played on successive days on the concluding weekend, but they also believe the scheduling can adversely affect those in the half of the draw who play a day later than their rivals.

While Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, among others, completed their fourth-round matches on Monday, those in the bottom half, including Nadal, Murray and Roddick, will have to return today to play theirs. Assuming the weather improves sufficiently – and the forecast for the next three days suggests only a slow relenting in the rain – the finalist who emerges from the bottom half of the draw will have to play four best-of-five-set matches in four days.

Murray said: "With each day that passes, for the guys that are on me and Rafa's side, it reduces our chances. We want to play. Four best-of-five matches in four days is a huge task physically, so that would be really tough. We want to play, but if it's dangerous, we're not going to go out there."

Jim Curley, the tournament director said: "It is our intention at this point to finish the tournament on time, on Sunday. We feel we're dealing with some of the best conditioned athletes in the world and it's something we've experienced before, in 2003, when players played four matches in four days. It's certainly not ideal, but we think it's fair for all players. There is the possibility of more showers and mist and rain tomorrow, but we're being told by our meteorologists that things are improving."

Yesterday's events could lead to players coming together to discuss other issues, such as the fact that they do not take a share in the profits from Grand Slam tournaments, which are not part of the men's and women's tours. "I hope that what just happened will lead the players to get together," McEnroe said. "We get treated worse than any other sport in terms of revenue-sharing."

Lack of covers magnifies problems

When rain forced the 2008 US Open final to be played on a Monday it was the first time for 21 years that the tournament had gone into a third week. The 2009 and 2010 competitions suffered the same fate and rain – if not lightning – could yet strike for a fourth year in succession.

If the tournament has been unlucky in the last four years – the conditions are usually fine until the latter stages – the weather is not unprecedented. Between 1968 and 1974 competition had to be extended into a third week on four occasions.

The United States Tennis Association have compounded the meteorological problems with their match scheduling, which is geared to the demands of television, and their failure to install a roof. At Wimbledon, players in both halves of the draw are scheduled to play on the same day from the fourth round onwards, but here the two sections do not come together until the semi-finals.

The problems are magnified by the lack of covers for the courts. Arthur Ashe Stadium, which was completed in 1997, is the newest main show court at the four Grand Slam tournaments, yet by 2016, when the French Open finish building their retractable roof, it will be the only one without any cover.

John McEnroe was among those who called for a roof when designs for Arthur Ashe Stadium were being drawn up, but the USTA did not follow his advice. The 23,771-seat stadium is the largest of all the world's main tennis arenas and it is said that installing a roof would cost more than $200m (about £125m).

During showers not even tarpaulins are used to cover the courts because they are said to damage the playing surface.

Paul Newman

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London