The US Open announced today sweeping changes to its format starting in 2015. Faced with increased pressure from the top men, the tournament will no longer play their men’s semifinals on Saturday moving the two matches two Friday allowing the men’s final to return to Sunday.
The Saturday-Sunday semifinal-final schedule has long been an issue for men who were not given a day off in between five set matches. This year and for 2014 the US Open will still play its men’s final on Monday, but return to Sunday under the new changes in 2015.
“This excellent outcome for the sport of tennis wouldn’t have been possible without the open-mindedness and fairness of USTA President Dave Haggerty and the USTA staff,” said Roger Federer, President of the ATP Player Council. “They approached our concerns with a true spirit of partnership, and as President of the ATP Player Council I am personally grateful for their support. Everyone I have spoken with is excited about the increases in prize money, as well as the agreement to change the schedule for 2015 and beyond. The US Open is very special, and we all look forward to great competition at Flushing Meadows later this year, and in the years yet to come.”
The women’s final, played Sunday the next two years, will return to Saturday in 2015 with their semifinals played Thursday.
AS part of this new 5-year deal with the ATP/WTA, the tournament also bumped it’s prize money outlay by $4.1 million to a Slam record $33.6 million for 2013 and it expects to award $50 million by 2017, a nearly two-fold increase over 2012.
“We welcome the commitment the USTA has made concerning player prize money at the US Open through 2017,” said ATP head Brad Drewett. “These increases are the largest in the history of the sport, representing a significant step forward in truly recognizing the input the players have in the success of the US Open. We also welcome the decision from the USTA to adopt a schedule with the men’s semifinals completed by Friday and the final on Sunday, from 2015 onwards.”
The US Open also plans to upgrade their facilities to turn it into “most modern and fan- and player-friendly tennis center in the world”, though no roof on the stadium court was mentioned.
QUOTES FROM TOP PLAYERS:
Novak Djokovic: “Yeah, well, we have been talking with them for quite a while now, and it’s a positive step to see the prize money increase. It’s a good response, and it’s, you know, a reaction from US Open towards the players’ demands and desires. And as I said before, we all have to stay united. We all have to try not just as players, but also the people from the tournament side to work towards improving this game and the world of tennis. So, you know, Grand Slams are huge competitions. They are over two weeks long and there are a lot of benefits. Without players, those benefits are not possible. So I’m sure that a lot of players will be happy with this prize money increase. And to be honest, me personally, I am not happy with a Monday final. But it is the way it is for next two years. I think we have to accept it, and then after that, it all goes back to normal hopefully for Sunday final like every Grand Slam has.”
Andy Murray: “I think for the tour just now also I think the players are very valuable to the events, and, you know, I think now the prize money is starting to reflect that. So it’s great that, you know, all the conversations at the ATP and the players have been having with the USTA, you know, and the guys that run the US Open have been beneficial and have been very positive. It’s good that things are moving in the right direction. Hopefully that continues to be the case, but it’s a big step forward.”
Serena Williams: “Well, it wasn’t only the men’s side, for the record. They definitely led the challenge. You know, I’m on the player council with the ladies, so we had a lot to do with we met with all the Grand Slams in Doha, in the middle of the tournament. We sat down with all the top players and every Grand Slam chairman came in, and we told them, Look, we need to change. I mean, this is people we just want to be at a different point and earn more money and just not necessarily earn more money, but just do better for the sport. Show people a reason to play tennis. Get more people involved. What can we do to make that better? So, you know, we were in those meetings and all biting our nails, both the players and the Grand Slam chairmen, you know. We’re all like a little sometimes it gets a little testy, especially with some. But, you know, I think it was worth it. We still want to climb and we still want to make improvements, obviously not for me or for my generation, but for the next generations to come to say, you know, that tennis is such a great sport and you can do well in it.”
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