Tomas Berdych: We should not have played in high winds at US Open
Monday 10 September 2012
This would not be the US Open without a controversy over the scheduling of matches. Saturday's debate centred around whether there should have been any play at all given the high winds and storms that swept through Flushing Meadows throughout the day.
From the moment the upper tiers of Arthur Ashe Stadium were evacuated shortly before the scheduled start of play because of a tornado – which eventually touched ground only three miles away – it was clear that the weather would be a major factor.
Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych played their semi-final in the most testing of conditions. Play was held up several times because of litter blowing around the court and at one stage the players' chairs were blown on to the court in the middle of a point. While Murray dealt superbly with the conditions in the course of his 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 victory, Berdych struggled. The Czech has a particularly high ball toss and frequently had to abort his service action. On one occasion the ball moved so much that Berdych's mishit serve ballooned beyond the baseline.
With a severe thunderstorm approaching, David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic followed Murray and Berdych on to court and began their semi-final in even stronger winds. Djokovic in particular was unhappy at playing in such conditions. Play was eventually called off for the day after only half an hour with Ferrer leading 5-2.
The evening session – due to feature the women's final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka – had already been postponed until yesterday. Nevertheless, the tournament could have been completed on time if the Djokovic-Ferrer match had been moved to another court and played at the same time as Murray-Berdych.
Berdych said the conditions had a major impact. "When I'm not able to go for the first serve and I'm not making some straight points from the serve, then that's not my game," the world No 7 said afterwards. "He [Murray] dealt with that much better than I did."
Berdych did not think the match should have been played. "We are here in the States where they really love a show, but this was not about a show," he said. "This was just about somehow trying to deal with the conditions and then trying to put the ball over the net. Sometimes even that was impossible."
Murray was asked whether he agreed that there should be rules governing such conditions. "There are certain rules in tennis that were broken many times today," he said.
"It was sometimes two minutes between points because it was taking so long for us to throw the ball up. Maybe those rules should be enforced a little bit – or not play the matches. But I don't know if they stop in other sports for a lot of wind. When there is a tornado around then that's pretty serious. I think that's the right time to stop."
"There is a skill to playing in the wind. I have never played in it when it's been that bad, but people like to watch professionals struggle when they're in tough conditions."
There has always been pressure here on the final weekend because the scheduling leaves little room for manoeuvre, particularly as there are no retractable covers on any of the courts. The tournament's insistence on having "Super Saturday" – featuring both men's singles semi-finals and the women's final – has led to a Monday men's final for the last five years.
The players, nevertheless, have repeatedly voiced their dissatisfaction over the scheduling, which will be changed next year. From 2013, there will be a day of rest for the men's finalists after the semi-finals, though it has yet to be decided whether the final will be played on the Sunday or Monday.
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