Rising tennis star Amanda Anisimova has rejected calls to abandon the US Open as players remain split on whether the grand slam should go ahead.
Tournament organisers want the major to start on August 31 and are coming up with strict biosecurity measures to limit the risk of anyone contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Aussie star Nick Kyrgios doesn’t believe it’s right for tennis to be plotting a return, especially to a city that has seen more than 17,000 coronavirus deaths and been gripped by anti-racism protests and riots.
“The ATP is trying to make the US Open go ahead. Selfish with everything going on at the moment,” Kyrgios tweeted this week.
“Obviously Covid, but also with the riots, together we need to overcome these challenges before tennis returns in my opinion.”
Kyrgios also supported his countryman, world No. 43 John Millman, who wrote: “I love the US Open but it seems a little crazy that we’re still contemplating playing a grand slam there, right?”
Anisimova doesn’t think so. The 18-year-old American, one of the brightest prospects in the sport, replied to Millman in a since-deleted tweet questioning why tennis shouldn’t at least attempt to push ahead with the US Open.
“I don’t see why not give it a try,” Anisimova wrote. “Of course there will be a ton of safety protocols in place, and many precautions made.
“Other sports are coming back, so why can’t tennis? Playing without fans is a huge bummer, but at least we get to play at all.”
Anisimova enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 as she made the fourth round of the Australian Open and qualified for the semi-finals at Roland Garros, where she was defeated by Australia’s Ash Barty. Before coronavirus brought the world to a standstill, she had her sights set on breaking into the top 20.
Sitting at No. 28 in the world, the talented teenager signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike last year as the sportswear giant recognised her potential to be the pin-up girl for tennis’ next generation.
Anisimova, who played mixed doubles with Kyrgios at this year’s Australian Open, might not agree with the Canberra product or Millman but several of the world’s best players do.
Men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic says it would be “impossible” to play under the “extreme” restrictions being floated for the US Open, which include limiting players to bringing only one member of their entourage and quarantining them in hotels during the tournament.
“Most of the players I have talked to were quite negative on whether they would go there,” Djokovic said.
“For me currently, as things stand, most probably the season will continue on clay at the beginning of September.”
Speaking at Djokovic’s charity event in Belgrade this weekend, world No. 7 Alexander Zverev and No. 3 ranked Dominic Thiem also expressed concern about playing at Flushing Meadows.
But US star Danielle Collins accused the top tier of being out of touch with the rest of the tennis community, saying while the world’s best players could afford to skip tournaments, lower-ranked racquet wielders with less savings in the bank who have been unable to earn an income in recent months would see things differently.
“No one has been able to play sanctioned events or make money since February. Here we have an awesome opportunity with the US Open talking about proceeding forward with the event, with some strict safety precautions to make sure all players feel safe and their health is put first,” Collins wrote in response to Djokovic.
“This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with (him) will be too difficult be able to bring his entourage.
“If it’s safe to play, and the USTA, WTA and ATP do everything in their ability to prioritise the health of the players, I think we should support that.
“It’s easy when someone’s made $US150 million ($AUD 205m) throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the US Open.
“For those of us (most tennis players) who don’t travel with an entourage, we actually need to start working again. It would be nice to have the best player in the world supporting this opportunity and not spoiling it for the players and the fans!”
Originally published as Teenage tennis pin-up rejects Aussie stars