Tennis has been out of sight, out of mind for most fans since the coronavirus forced a pause to the 2020 season back in mid-March. But with the U.S. Open looming, the focus will return to the sport.
Yes, tournaments have been held around the world during the pandemic. But two majors — the French Open and Wimbledon — were not played at their usually scheduled times. The French Open has been rescheduled for late September while Wimbledon decided to cancel until 2021.
As for Flushing Meadows, the plan is to play, beginning Monday, without fans on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. That element alone will make it feel weird for the players, who are used to the boisterous attitude of the New York fans.
Some players got a taste of it by competing in this week’s Western & Southern Open, which is being played in Queens instead of its normal setting in Cincinnati. Entourages are limited to three individuals so it takes on the appearance of a practice session.
As of Tuesday, Las Vegas sportsbooks had yet to post any odds on the U.S. Open. As Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook said, “We have to see who’s playing first.”
Who will compete? The commitment list includes Novak Djokovic, the world’s No. 2-ranked men’s player, and Serena Williams, who has 23 Grand Slam titles, on the women’s side. But the opt-out list is far more compelling.
No Rafael Nadal. No Roger Federer. No Nick Kyrgios or Gael Monfis. Stan Wawrinka has also decided not to play. On the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu, who won the Australian Open, the lone major to be played this year back in January, will not compete. Neither will Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, the world’s No. 1 and 2-ranked players respectively.
A lot of players remain on the fence in committing to play. But for those who do decide to compete, there will be an unprecedented opportunity to make a deep run and perhaps capture the title.
Look for the books to post odds later in the week once the field is established. Djokovic figures to be a huge favorite to hold the championship trophy for the fourth time on Sept. 13 and Serena will likely be a short price. But there will be some long shot opportunities making this year’s event a compelling betting opportunity. It may just take a few days to figure out who is going to be playing.