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US Open washout leaves Rafa, Murray in limbo

sports Updated: Sep 07, 2011 02:03 IST

AFP
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Defending champion Rafael Nadal and world number four Andy Murray were among the stars left in limbo Tuesday as rain washed out all play at the US Open.

Nadal -- no stranger to weather disruptions after repeated delays prolonged his path to completion of a career Grand Slam in New York last year -- had been scheduled to face Luxembourg's Gilles Muller for a quarter-final berth.

Murray had been set to open play on the Arthur Ashe Stadium at 11am, but about 2 1/2 hours after that officials of the US Tennis Association announced they were cancelling both the day and night sessions.

"Cancelled," was fourth-seeded Murray's succinct comment on the social networking site Twitter.

On the eve of the tournament, Murray had expressed his surprise that the playing surfaces were not covered.

"I don't understand why they don't just have covers. I heard that if they have covers, something to do with the paint on the court and the moisture... the court can lose color or something," said Murray.

"I'm sure they are thinking about doing something, but like most things, it takes a bit of time to push it through, I guess."

Other men's last 16 matches postponed from Tuesday were fifth-seeded David Ferrer's clash with America's former world number one Andy Roddick, and 12th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon against 28th-seeded American John Isner.

Two women's quarter-finals will also have to be rescheduled: world number two Vera Zvonareva against ninth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur and 26th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta against unseeded German Angelique Kerber.

For Stosur, an extra day off might be a respite after two gruelling encounters.

Stosur laboured for three hours and 16 minutes to get past Nadia Petrova 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5 in the third round on Friday -- the longest women's singles match recorded at the US Open since the tiebreak era began in 1970.

On Sunday she dropped an epic second-set tiebreaker but recovered to beat Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-7 (15/17), 6-3.

US Tennis Association officials said they hoped to resume play on schedule at 11am on Wednesday, and would issue a revised schedule on Tuesday afternoon.

Five-time champion Roger Federer was among the four men who beat the weather to lock up quarter-final berths on Monday.

World number one Novak Djokovic, seeking to add a first US Open crown to the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles he has already claimed this year, set up a last-eight clash with friend and Serbian Davis Cup teammate Janko Tipsarevic.

Federer will face 11th-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -- the man who rallied from two sets down to shock the Swiss great in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Federer didn't get on court until shortly before midnight on Monday, and misty rain was falling by the time he completed his 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 demolition of unfortunate Argentinian Juan Monaco.

Federer was pleased to be home and dry with his quarter-final berth, especially with Tsonga already through.

"It would have been a competitive advantage for Tsonga if I wouldn't have finished today or not even had a chance to play," he said.

In general, however, Federer said he and his fellow players were used to coping with erratic schedules.

"It's crazy how our schedules change all the time," he said. "As tennis players, it makes it extremely difficult to be on your A game every single day."

Rain has bedevilled the tournament in recent times with the men's final, scheduled for the last Sunday of the fortnight, carried over to the Monday for the last three years.

The first week of the US Open had been played out in bright sunshine although the schedule was tweaked on the opening Monday after the venue sustained minor damage when Tropical Storm Irene lashed new York.

Tuesday's downpours again sparked more questions over the decision by the Flushing Meadows authorities not to follow the lead of the Australian Open and Wimbledon in building a retractable roof over its main court.

The French Open is also forging ahead with plans to install a retractable roof on centre court at Roland Garros in time for the 2016 championship.

The roof will be part of a £275m euro (£239.9m) rennovation of Court Philippe Chatrier.