The USTA unveiled the 2013 US Open schedule today. After five years of having the men’s final pushed back to Monday due to inclement weather, they decided to make it official. The women’s semifinals will take place on Friday, the men’s semifinals on Saturday, the women’s final on Sunday afternoon, and the men’s final on Monday at 5 p.m. Here’s our quick take.
Amy: Not a big fan of the new schedule. I understand weather’s always a concern because of the lack of roof, but I still think with the demise of Super Saturday, the US Open should be able to conclude by Sunday.
Monday finals are anticlimactic. How many casual American tennis fans are going to be able to watch a final that starts at 5:00 p.m. on a workday? Most East Coasters won’t get home from work before 6:00 or 6:30, I would guess, so even if they turn on the TV the minute they get home, they will have missed a significant chunk of the match. Those on the West Coast will be even less likely to watch, as it will start at 2:00 p.m. for them. I don’t think that’s great for the sport, especially in a country where interest in professional tennis seems to be lagging.
That said, I’m glad the schedule is now conducive to having the players at their best for the finals. To me, that’s by far the most important thing. Now we’ll see if the US Open can pull it off, or whether we end up with a Tuesday final.
Juan Jose: This is great news. As someone who has called “Super Saturday” the dumbest thing in all of tennis, I couldn’t be happier to read a press release about it’s death. However, it doesn’t seem like it will be a permanent shift – it’s made clear in the release that this is only for 2013. I have no idea why they would even consider going back to the old format. I wish they had included a line saying that no matter if the tournament ended on Monday or on Sunday, there would always be a day of rest between the semis and the final.
About having an official Monday final, I think I would prefer it if the tournament started on a Sunday and killed it’s incomprehensible three-day first round instead. It feels weird for a tennis tournament to officially end on a Monday, but I guess having a huge event on that day isn’t strange at all these days, with the success of Monday Night Football in the US, and the regular scheduling of Monday English Premier League soccer games as well. At the end of the day, the main objective was getting a day of rest between the semis and the final, which was achieved. For one year at least!
I like how it took this long for a tennis official to say this: “Because of the nature of the game, and to assure a final that can be played at the highest competitive level, you need an extra day of rest. We recognized that.” That was my whole argument against Super Saturday. The final of a Slam is a tournament’s top asset. Why on Earth would you want to sabotage it by having the players battle out the day before over five sets?
I also find interesting that prize money has increased, but there hasn’t been a decision on how it will be distributed. Which means that the players and the USTA haven’t reached an agreement on that very key front yet.
Kudos to the USTA for releasing a statement about tournament scheduling without using the word “roof” at all. We wouldn’t want to name the giant rain-soaked elephant in the room.
Lindsay: You both make good points, and I primarily agree with them. I wish that starting a Sunday early would solve the problem, because I think stretching tennis to the weekends is the best thing for the sport. Then the three-day first round would make sense, it would be easier for casual fans to witness the amazing insanity of a first day of a major, and even better than that–the tournament would be taking center stage on a Sunday that’s not a football Sunday. Everyone wins! Unfortunately, I do realize that they’re trying to account for rain and weather during the event, which an early start doesn’t necessarily account for.
But really, I hate hate hate hate hate Monday finals. It’s awful for casual fans, which means it’s awful for the sport, because if anything should be pandering to casual fans it’s the US Open final. I’m glad the players get an extra day of rest, but it just feels like there has to be another way to make that happen.
Oh right. There is. A roof.