(Reuters) – Canadian doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski has hit out at the decision to go ahead with this year’s U.S. Open, saying that despite strict health protocols it will be “impossible” to protect players in a bio-secure bubble throughout the event.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday the United States Tennis Association would take “extraordinary precautions” to protect players from COVID-19, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated accommodation.
The event will go ahead as originally scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 without fans.
“It is IMPOSSIBLE to control and enforce a bubble situation where players only move from the hotel to the venue and back,” Dabrowski, who has won the Australian Open and the French Open mixed doubles titles, said on Twitter.
“We don’t know who players will come into contact with and those that don’t obey put everyone else in the tournament at RISK.”
Reports in U.S. media and tennis publications say the USTA had decided to eliminate qualifying, halve the doubles draw to 32 pairings and drop the mixed doubles tournament altogether.
Dabrowski, 28, said many players were uncomfortable about travelling to the United States due to the coronavirus situation and were concerned about having to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests at the event.
Others had expressed disappointment they would be unable to compete because of the streamlined tournament, she added.
Women’s world No. 2 Simona Halep is “highly unlikely” to play at Flushing Meadows due to the protocols, a spokeswoman for the Romanian told Reuters.
“Not having a qualifying and a smaller doubles draw increase the lack of parity in tennis,” said Dabrowski. “For me, a slam isn’t a slam without qualifying, doubles, and mixed doubles.
“It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when so many players are against this event moving forward, and yet it is moving forward anyway. Something just doesn’t feel right here.”
The USTA has had some support for its decision, with American John Isner happy the event is going ahead.
“Well done @usta for being so forward thinking in getting this done. Time to get back on the courts!” he said on Twitter.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)