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US Open ponders change after Agassi rebukes

Andre Agassi has voiced concerns over scheduling at the US Open and organizers of the Grand Slam tennis event are listening to the world's top-ranked player.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2003 09:42 IST
Jim Slater (AFP)
Jim Slater (AFP)

Andre Agassi has voiced concerns over scheduling at the US Open and organizers of the Grand Slam tennis event are listening to the world's top-ranked player.

A review of the "Super Saturday" lineup beloved by American television will be undertaken in the next year, with an eye toward possibly moving the men's semi-finals and women's final to different days.

"It has been time to review that for a while," US Tennis Association chief executive Arlen Kantarian said.

"In the next year, we will continue to discuss that issue with our television partners. We will continue to look at different scheduling options."

Agassi's concern is that the men's semi-finals and final not be played on consecutive days, a staple of the US Open. That could mean shifting the men's final to Monday or playing the first round in two days instead of three.

Either way, Agassi said the reward will be higher quality tennis in the showcase match at the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

"Playing matches back-to-back can have their toll," Agassi said. "Sometimes it's mental as well. It has always been difficult. It makes winning a little bit more special but it's something you wish you didn't have.

"The standard of tennis is compromised for it."

Eight-time Grand Slam winner Agassi is also annoyed at how much influence telecasters have with setting the match schedule.

"The standard of tennis is compromised by TV having such a say so in scheduling," Agassi said. "It's an additional part of what makes this tournament so difficult to win."

Agassi said the back-to-back nature of the last two men's matches were a factor in his three US Open finals losses.

"I have been a part of three losing finals here at the Open. I felt in each case I paid a good price for the match that was played the day before," Agassi said.

"The two times I won here, the matches in the semis tended to be a little more uneventful. There's a big factor to what happens on Saturday to your Sunday match. That's what makes it tough. That's what makes it rewarding.

"But it definitely compromises the standard of tennis you see."

Agassi ripped USTA officials for halting his match but not that of his next opponent, giving his foe Taylor Dent an extra day's rest while he still had to finish off Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

US Open tournament referee Brian Earley agreed that the situation was unfair to Agassi and that he should have been consulted before a decision was made on the fate of his match.

"It's so easy to look back," Earley said. "There are always different options. We did what we thought was best at the time."

In two similar situations since then because of rain, both sets of potential foes have been treated equally when making postponement decisions.

"We would do the same thing but we would also confer with the players at an earlier time," Kantarian said. "While the decision would be the tourmament management's decision, fairness of play is priority one."

First Published: Sep 03, 2003 09:42 IST