US Open roofless; USTA toothless


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It is rare that Tramlines focuses on off the court matters, but only when the 'DecoTurf' is covered in water does its attention turn elsewhere.

For the third year running, the men's final has been postponed due to rain, and for the third year running the US Tennis Association has been forced to vehemently defend their profligate spending.

The USTA have consistently justified the lack of a roof on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, explaining that to cover such a big arena would be extortionate.

But, given that you can see about as much of a match from the top tier of the stadium as you can watching a 14" television behind a well lunched Peter Lundgren, it is a problem of their own making.

John McEnroe was among the throngs of tennis sages lobbying the USTA officials to rein in their egos and have a slightly smaller stadium to accommodate a roof for the same price, but to no avail.

"It seemed like a no-brainer but people at the USTA decided they wanted to build the biggest (stadium)," McEnroe said about the Ashe centre court. "But at the same price they could've had a slightly smaller stadium and had a roof."

Both the Australian Open and Wimbledon championships have retractable roofs to counter dodgy weather but, with the USTA having taken the 'Tower of Babel' approach to its show court, a cover for the Arthur Ashe has been rendered virtually unquotable by building firms.

In the style of Britain's own LTA, there is no problem which cannot be fixed by throwing 'grass-roots' related platitudes at it, and the USTA are experts at that too.

"It's technically complex and financially challenging," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier explained with a wry smile.

"At a cost of more than $150 million (£97.5m), do you spend that on a roof or continue to fund grassroots tennis programs in this country?"

Ah, return the question with another question. That is very Roger Draper, and earning 20 points from the governing body's buzzword game, too.

Not only do a large proportion of the fans unfortunate enough to be seated in the top tier of the Arthur Ashe complain about their shoddy viewing, but the USTA were still left desperately trying to sell tickets for the women's final on the day of the match.

Now, with the men's final shifted to the Monday yet again, it leaves spectators to confront New York commuter hell, while being unsure if the showpiece will even get underway at all anyway.

Tramlines accepts that $100m (£64.9m) has been plundered on practice facilities at the Flushing Meadows complex over the last five years but, with the Arthur Ashe remaining roofless, the USTA are being made to look entirely toothless.



Eva-Vestida: "This is a disaster, period. How many of the people who bought a ticket were from outside New York, even from  abroad? How many of them can stay a few more days? DO SOMETHING!"

N.Gerard: "Considering the type of wind speed that happened during the US Open, a roof is really need to control those situations. It is also very sad when a Grand Slam final is postponed because of rain. I think if a roof is constructed at the Arthur Ashe stadium it will do a lot of good. The roof can be closed when the wind reaches a certain speed and it will also be closed when it rains. So the USTA should think again about getting one."

Ali Yahya: "Oh, so the roof is costly and the whole set of tennis courts were not costly?? Get a life... both the Australian Open and Wimbledon centre courts have retractable roofs, and the French Open administration is considering building a roof too."

Honeybeecro7: "Building such a huge stadium wasn't such a smart  idea considering the fact this stadium is rarely completely full and because people in the last few rows can barely see the court. It's a shame because those tickets don't come cheap. They should have built a stadium for 15-20,000 people and with the roof."

Francisco: "So, for the third year in a row over 23,000 people have bought expensive men's final tickets and travelled from far and wide just to have the day rained out and the USTA is still dragging its feet on building a  covered stadium? They'd better hope the tennis fans don't get smart and decide to watch the final from home the next few years until there's a roof in place."



Not one to risk its ever burgeoning reputation speculating on rankings (and not having the mathematical prowess to work them out), Tramlines will eagerly anticipate the post-Flushing Meadows standings with baited breath.



"Wanna see what we have for dinner at official player party?!let me know what you think I should eat!!!:(." That's the last time Jarmila Groth will be invited to the end of Championship 'feast' after her sarcastic appraisal of the soggy pastry offerings.

"Rocking out at Twickenham at help for heroes concert... great cause! James blunt up now!" Jamie 'rock hard, play hard' Murray provides us with his bi-hourly tweet to prove his two-step philosophy for great tennis: listening to James Blunt, and not practising for any longer than 20 minutes.

"Good morning, thank you again to all of you for the messages! Very nice to read all the support! Can't wait to watch the Rafa against Novak." As the old saying goes, there is no better way to celebrate winning a Grand Slam title than to spend the evening checking your Twitter tributes. That is exactly what Kim Clijsters does.



There are few head-to-heads in the world of tennis which capture the imagination and set the pulses racing more thanAlex Bogdanovic's long-standing battle with Alex Bogomolov Jr. This hypothetical battle has it all: tears, tantrums and first-round defeats.

A-Bog (GB) crashed out of the US Open in the first qualifying round with an early retirement in the second set at 5-2 down against Blake Strode of the USA. Given that Strode is ranked at number 642 in the world, and A-Bog is up at the heady heights of 215, it was an ignominious exit for the Brit.

For A-Bog Jr, it was a relatively successful campaign as the Charlie Dimmock lookalike reached the second round with a 6-1 6-1 win over Belgium's Niels Desein in his opening match of qualifying. Canada's Milos Raonic infuriated the home crowd with his audacious straight-sets win in the next round, but A-Bog (USA) runs out the winner as a result of his Desein demolition.

On a dubiously-related note, a third A-Bog has thrown his cap into the ring. Bolton and Hungary goalkeeper Adam Bogdan produced a sterling display in his side's defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Standings: A-Bog (US) 14-10 A-Bog (GB)



For the men, it is the semi-finals of the Davis Cup, with Novak Djokovic having to recover quickly from his exploits at Flushing Meadows for Serbia's tie with the Czech Republic in Belgrade. Meanwhile, France take on Argentina in Lyon as Gael Monfils prepares for another epic encounter with fellow five-set lover David Nalbandian.

On the women's side, there are hard-court tournaments in Guangzhou, China, and Quebec City, Canada to keep us all occupied. And, if that were not enough, Tramlines is pretty sure that Jarmila Groth and Dmitry Tursunov will hit the 6,000 mark in their eagerly-anticipated, Most Tweets in a Week contest. Phew!

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