Here we are then, the first major tournament since Coronavirus changed the very landscape of our planet and our lives for who knows how long. As the pandemic shows no sign of loosening its grip, so we must try and continue as best we can. Sport too has had to endure and adapt and only after sitting back and waiting patiently to return to action.
On the whole, we have seen common sense prevail, fans have been kept at bay and the great release that sport provides has been able to continue in eerie silence. From football stadia to cricket and Formula One, the weirdness varies from event to event and each discipline loses some of that atmosphere that defines it.
With the French moved to a few weeks time and Wimbledon sadly skipped altogether, Tennis has returned too, but tentatively and not without controversy. At the centre of much of it is Novak Djokovic who was rightly lambasted for his Covid-riddled Balkan exhibition tour fiasco and now anger has turned to a collective bemusement at his breakaway movement the PTPA. As the ATP and WTA tours consider merging together [a move that has all gone quiet this last month] the last thing the sport needed was this third faction vaguely challenging the ATP and all it stands for, quite how and to what extent remains to be seen. The men-only body, promoting player power, prize money discussions and other initiatives – sparked by the scenes at the Western and Southern sees the Serb, John Isner and Vasek Pospisil [all formerly ATP players council representatives] recruit 200 or so players [from the ATP’s 2,000-strong roster] and parade them in a public display only this week. It remains to be seen if the lack of support from the likes of Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray will nip this break-away in the bud. Watch this space I guess.
With such stories, I may have to keep this blog going longer than my planned December 2020 retirement.
On court, New York sees an incredibly depleted field this fortnight but lets embrace this as an opportunity to discover some of the rising talents and the journeymen and women beginning to emerge from the [unwarranted] obscurity of the lower half of the top 100.
For all of the aforementioned distractions, Djokovic remains the favourite on the men’s side, but with the likes of Thiem, last year’s finalist Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas all present and correct, things could get interesting.
Gone of course are the days when the women’s competition would be a foregone conclusion, the field lacks half of the top ten including head honcho Barty and defending champ Andreescu. But with Osaka, Gauff, Serena, the resurgent [and victorious this week] Azarenka and the returning Kim Clijsters, there is plenty to savour.
Time to tune in to Amazon then and watch the drama unfold, which matches are my picks of Day One?
- Anderson vs Zverev
- Osaka vs Doi
- Gauff vs Sevastova
- Collins vs Kontaveit
- Johnson vs Isner