Former world no. 1 Andy Murray says he is ‘apprehensive’ about the 2020 US Open, but planning to play. Murray…
Former world no. 1 Andy Murray says he is ‘apprehensive’ about the 2020 US Open, but planning to play.
Murray and Johanna Konta, the WTA no. 14 and British no. 1, both believe that the US Open looks set to go ahead despite the global health crisis.
The Grand Slam is scheduled to be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August-13 September, but opinion is split on whether or not it will take place and if it does, how many top players will travel for it.
‘Four or five weeks ago, we were pretty sceptical about it. But mentally at some stage you need to start preparing and planning for that.
‘If it wasn’t happening, my schedule for practising, my rehab, would all be a bit different. Mentally I’m planning for it to go ahead.’
The three-time major champion hasn’t played a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in January 2019, shortly before he underwent a major hip operation. He was speaking to media ahead of this week’s Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event, at which he only reportedly plans to play doubles. Murray’s only tournament of any kind since last November was June’s Battle of the Brits, at which he reached the semifinals but later withdrew from the third-place play-off due to pain in his shins.
‘I’m still trying to build up to get ready for New York. It would be good for me to get some competitive matches in for sharpness and stuff, but there’s a lot of tennis this week and I don’t want to take any risks with the tournaments in the States just a few weeks away. Right now I’m training on the court four days a week.’
Players have been doubtful about the prospect of travelling to the USA, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, for the US Open, fearing that they will need to quarantine upon arrival or return to Europe and either suspecting that the tournament will not be safe or chafing against safety measures such as limited entourage numbers. But if Murray is any indication, players might now be feeling more cautiously optimistic.
‘My feeling is that some sports have obviously come back and seem to have done pretty well. … The issue for us is the travel so, yeah, we’ll probably be a bit apprehensive getting over there. We’re getting tested before we arrive, so hopefully once we get there, the players, the staff and everyone are in this secure bubble and everything will be fine. That is my hope.
‘I was thinking about maybe travelling somewhere beforehand to get in a bit of hot-weather training but then you’re increasing your risk of catching the virus, which then means you can’t potentially train or travel for a couple of weeks, which could then put playing a grand slam in doubt. So there are things like that, where I’ve had to change my thinking.
‘Hopefully the US Open can go ahead and it’s OK. But if not, I’m also OK with that. It’s not like I’m saying it must go ahead. So long as it’s safe for the players, then we need to try to get back to competing when it’s safe to do so.’
‘Everything is pointing in the direction that it is going to go ahead. They have been quite vocal that they are pushing forwards. Just basing my opinion on all the information that is there, I think it probably will.
‘As far as I understand, as professional athletes I think we can come back without quarantining as of now. But I don’t know if that has changed in the last 12 hours.’
Konta was a quarterfinalist at last year’s US Open. She will be playing for the British Bulldogs at Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, and features on Monday’s lineup.