Australian tennis pro Daria Gavrilova says she needs to play the US Open due to financial stress.
- US Open organisers announced the tournament would go ahead in August and September
- Daria Gavrilova has not played on the WTA Tour since last year’s US Open
- John Millman said there were several questions that needed to be answered before he agreed to play in New York
Last night, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo approved the US Tennis Association’s plan to host the major tournament from August 31 to September 13.
The Open had been in doubt because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it will take place behind closed doors at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Women’s world number one Ash Barty is among the Australian players who have already expressed concerns about the US Open being staged, while Nick Kyrgios has labelled those wanting the tournament to go ahead as “selfish”.
But Gavrilova said it was vital she played in New York for financial reasons. The 26-year-old has not played since the US Open last year due to injury and the coronavirus-enforced shutdown of professional tennis.
The four majors are the most financially lucrative tournaments for players and the former world number 20 said she had to contest the US Open to avoid going into debt.
“I think it’s really important,” she told the ABC.
“We still have to pay bills and other things … [like] taking care of my family, so I’m really excited.”
Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic has also voiced his opposition to the tournament going ahead, saying protocols that only allow players to have one of their support team with them at matches were “extreme”.
But Gavrilova, who has a protected injury ranking that will ensure automatic qualification, said higher-profile players did not need to play the US Open for the financial incentive.
“It’s their decision and they probably don’t really have to play in the circumstances,” he said.
“But for me it’s important to make a living, to make some money … I’m really eager to get back and play. It’s a great opportunity.”
Millman unsure about US Open
While Gavrilova is excited about the US Open going ahead, compatriot John Millman has joined the growing chorus of players questioning the decision.
Millman admitted he felt a “little bit conflicted right now” about playing the tournament.
He said he would not travel to New York unless the COVID-19 infection rate improved and the protests in the US were under control.
“It’s quite a volatile and hostile place right now in the United States and that obviously makes for quite an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience also,” Millman said.
Millman said he understood the timing of the announcement that the US Open would proceed, as organisers could not “have waited much longer” with the tournament set to begin at the end of August.
But Millman, who was ranked 43 when the ATP Tour shut down, said he felt there were too many questions that remain unanswered.
“I don’t know where my ranking is going to be, I don’t know the protocols that are going to be in place, I don’t know what the schedule is going to look like,” he said.
“I think a lot of people have a lot of questions that will need to be answered before we get things off and running.”
Millman, a US Open quarter-finalist in 2018, said he was unimpressed with the level of communication from the ATP Tour and US Open tournament organisers.
He said he relied on social media for updates.
“I do feel as if the information has been a little slow,” he said.
“I find myself looking to Twitter to get announcements and updates … I do feel as if the communication from the ATP and also on the grand slam [tournaments] side of things has been a little average and a little poor and has made everything a little more difficult.
“Even now I’m trying to find out as much information as possible as I can on a personal level to make an educated decision.”
Millman said the shutdown of the ATP and WTA Tours because of the coronavirus pandemic — in addition to the protests in the US and around the world — had reminded him there were more important things in life than tennis.
“What the last few months have really put into perspective is the fact that we are just playing a game and that there are bigger things out there and I’m very realistic that these protests are incredibly important,” he said.