Flushing Meadows – the venue for the US Open since 1978 – was formerly a land-fill, a dumping ground for ashes from coal fires, not to mention horse manure and rubbish. Turned into a massive park for the 1939-40 World’s Fair, it has been transformed over the years but for some reason, still unclear, they did not have the foresight to build a roof – or have the capability of building a roof – over the main stadiums either then or in the future.
Until the last few years, it was not really an issue but a combination of bad luck with the weather and longer matches because of the increasing physicality, especially in the men’s game, has seen the men’s final played pushed over into the Monday for four years in a row.
Now, though, there appears to at least be a sea change in the feelings of the USTA, who until this point had continually said they didn’t see the point in having a roof, and that in any case, Arthur Ashe Stadium was too big to make it technically possible. A roof over the 23,000-seater stadium, they said, would be too expensive and too heavy. On Sunday, though, they said that they would indeed like to have at least one covered court in future years, when technology allows. I am not sure exactly when that will be – they seem to believe that technology in roof building will improve by such an extent in the next few years that it might happen – but at least the intention is there. It may well be that they have to knock it down and start again.
More importantly and more immediately, they have finally used some common sense and agreed to put a day off between the men’s semi-finals and final. Super Saturday, that television-perfect spectacle that made the men play semis on Saturday and the final on Sunday will be no more from 2013. The USTA has not decided whether the final will be on Sunday or Monday just yet but 2013 is the second year in CBS’s three-year US Open deal (they show it at the weekends and Labor Day while ESPN and the television channel show the rest). ESPN told The Tennis Space in March that they would happily show a Monday final, so negotiations for future rights will be interesting, to say the least.
Talking of construction, there was plenty of building work going on inside the grounds here right up until the very last moment. For a while it looked like they were building a new small arena, just opposite the media centre. Well, it turns out it’s nothing athletic; rather it’s an improvement of the Heineken Red Star café, giving the fans more room to get the beers in between matches. Marvellous.