Gone in 960 seconds


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Sixteen minutes. That was it for the US Open on Wednesday: a
paltry 960 seconds of tennis action as the rain once again ruined play at the
final Grand Slam event of the year.

It took a hardy fan to turn up considering the inclement
weather forecast for the day, but this time fortune did not favour the brave
and those present under the umbrellas at Flushing Meadows were rewarded with nothing
more than a fleeting glimpse of their heroes.

But the fans' disappointment at the lack of action on the soggy
courts was nothing compared to the anger of the players, who felt aggrieved at being
forced to play even 16 minutes.

Led by world number two Rafael Nadal, they let their
grievances be known and took it upon themselves to stage some kind of mutiny
against the USTA.

Andy Murray and Andy Roddick both backed up Rafa's claims
that it was too dangerous to go out on the courts - which, as usual, had not
been covered during the showers - and all three confronted officials once their
matches had been postponed.

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Hopes were kept alive for the evening session, and Serena
Williams came tantalisingly close to starting her quarter-final, but once again
the rain won and in the end, organisers bit the bullet and called the whole
thing off.

Which left pretty much everyone a little peeved - the men
for having been put in a dangerous situation, the women for having to wait
around for hours for no reason, and the fans for a complete waste of their time
and efforts.

For the US Open, it was a day as dark as the skies around
Flushing Meadows, but when no-one, even with the best will in the world, can
stop it raining when Mother Nature decides she wants to spring a shower, it
seems like it's a no-win situation.

Well it would be if we hadn't seen all this before. On
numerous occasions.

For the past three years, the tournament has gone to a third
week due to rain delays during the original fortnight. And for the past three
years the calls for a retractable roof to be installed have been as loud as a
Maria Sharapova grunt.

So here we are again, asking the same question again: why
can't they put a lid on Arthur Ashe and avoid this same old situation year on

Because, the USTA say, it's too expensive. Because, the USTA
say, they'd rather invest money on grass roots tennis in the States. Because,
the USTA say, it's too technical a job to cover such an enormous stadium.

Let's not forget, this is one of the biggest events in the
sporting, not just the tennis, calendar. The quotes for installation of a roof/redevelopment
of the stadia may be astronomical, but is this not a tournament that warrants
the bank to be broken?

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And anyway, how much is it costing the USTA to go into a
third week once again? Instead of having to refund soggy punters and keep the
lights on for another day would it not be better to stash that cash away in a roof

As for the technological side of things, Tramlines doesn't
buy it. We live in an age when a football World Cup can be held in the searing summer
heat in the desert, so why can't a solution be found to allow tennis to be
played when it rains. Get Norman Foster on board, he's good at that kind of

New York is right at the cutting-edge in most things. But
unfortunately, its premier tennis tournament refuses to budge. Even Wimbledon,
that old bastion of strawberries-and-cream traditionalism, has moved with the
times and embraced new technology. It's time for the US Open to do the same,
whatever the cost.

- - -

Rant of the day: American
pro surfer Bobby Martinez went nuts at the Quiksilver Pro event at Long Beach,
apparently taking issue with any surfers who like tennis and Rafa Nadal. He has
since been booted out of the competition and off the tour.

Looking ahead:
Honestly, who knows? They're going to try to cram as much in as possible, but
without a roof, nothing is guaranteed.

Caption competition:

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