Tuesday washout means US Open becomes survival of the fittes
New York: Rafael Nadal likes to play tennis later rather than earlier. "I'm from Spain," the defending US Open champion said. "I like the night."
Roger Federer is 30 years old, an elder statesman. He likes the normal rhythm of a major tournament, having at least one day off between matches. "It's better when I get that extra time," Federer said.
The US Open already configures its schedule differently to the other three major tournaments, without a full day off between the final matches. The women play semi-finals on Friday and the final on Saturday night. The men play semi-finals on Saturday with a Sunday final. And now the schedule leading up to those matches could get even more crowded.
The US Open cancelled its entire schedule Tuesday because of rain, and the forecast until tomorrow isn't good — a 70 per cent chance of rain today and possibly part of Hurricane Katia arriving tomorrow.
At recent US Opens, bad weather has been par for the course. For the last three years, rain has caused the tournament to finish on Monday instead of Sunday, and already some players are dealing with unsettling changes.
Nadal, who wasn't scheduled to play on Tuesday, was up first at 11am yesterday. If that doesn't sound early to the normal working man, consider that Nadal arrived at the United States Tennis Centre three hours earlier than his starting time so he can warm up, be massaged and eat at just the right time.
The Spaniard struggled Saturday in the first set of his third-round match against David Nalbandian, which he ended up winning, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5. "I usually go to bed very late," Nadal said. "I tried to go to sleep early before this match and it didn't work. I was in bed earlier, but I still can't sleep until late."
Andy Roddick has played his last 39 US Open matches on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, but the schedule shake-up has put him on the smaller Louis Armstrong Stadium to play fifth-seeded David Ferrer.
One of the rewards of becoming a big-name, ticket-selling player, Roddick said, was always playing on the same showcase court. Roddick said he's gained knowledge about the tricks of playing on Arthur Ashe.
"Some things are always the same and things that appear to be one way are definitely the other way," Roddick said. "I would sit here and go through them all, but that would pretty much waste all of the experience you are asking me about right now."
The men in Nadal's part of the draw will be most severely affected by Tuesday's cancellations. Nadal, fourth-seeded Andy Murray, Roddick and 28th-seeded John Isner — whom fellow American Mardy Fish touted as a title contender based on his play up until the fourth round — may need to play four matches in five days. And that's if they played yesterday.
The women are all into the quarter-finals, and for someone such as ninth-seeded Samantha Stosur, who already played a record-setting three hour, 16 minute match in the fourth round, or for top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who needed almost that long on Monday to survive Svetlana Kuznetsova, extra rest now helps.
But for Serena Williams, the heavy favourite for the women's title, a wash-out doesn't matter. As Williams pointed out, she didn't play a tournament until the week before Wimbledon after recovering from injury.
"I'm probably fresher than everybody," she said.