COVID-19 pandemic adds twist to U.S. Open tennis tournament

(Video by Rachel Phillips/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The U.S. Open usually acts as the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year, but when the matches get underway Monday, it will be just the second slam of a COVID-19 riddled 2020.

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, Arizona State tennis conditioning coach Bret Waltz found out he would be making the trip to the Big Apple just weeks ago.

Waltz has been a physio on the tour for 10 years. At the 140th edition of the hard-court slam he is working with three U.S. players – Tommy Paul (World No. 58), Frances Tiafoe (World No. 82) and Mitchell Krueger (World No. 198).

With the lack of lead-up tournaments in 2020, Waltz said the next two weeks will reveal how well conditioned the athletes are.

“Already with some of my guys, I mean we’re getting pretty sore,” Waltz said. “We’re feeling things we don’t usually feel in the full travel schedule.”

With no fans, limited play at this level and plenty of top seeds opting out, the 2020 U.S. Open is guaranteed to be different for players.

One thing that will remain normal is the prestige that will come with lifting the trophy.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Rachel Phillips is an Australian who’s pursuing a master’s degree in sports journalism and expects to graduate in December 2020. Phillips works as a broadcast reporter for Cronkite Sports.