It's been a stressful day for everyone from organizers to players to spectators to journalists but what we can all agree on is that the players' safety comes first. Because that's who this sport centers around.
The rain that canceled all match play on Tuesday, wreaked havoc with the schedule again on Wednesday where the players in Rafa and Murray's half of the draw were asked to step on court during a supposedly brief break from the showers in an effort to get these delayed fourth round matches over and done with but the result was pretty disastrous.
Rafa, Murray, Roddick and their opponents stepped on court in misty conditions and wet lines and played for a brief 15 minutes before the rain came pouring down again leaving Rafa and co frustrated that they were called on court to begin with, in such "unsafe" conditions.
Rafa's irritation started before the match because he wasn't given enough time to do his tapings and whatnot, which left his opponent Gilles Muller waiting for the Spaniard for almost 10 minutes. Here's what Rafa said ahead of stepping on court:
After 15 minutes of play where Rafa found himself down 3-1, the defending champion gave an earful to tournament referee Brian Earely, saying something along the lines of: "It’s the same old story. All you think about is money." Possibly referring to the US Open's policy of not having to refund tickets if 90 minutes of play or only one match is completed. Here's the video of Rafa's mini-rant:
After play was suspended on all three show courts, Rafa, Murray and Roddick head to Earley's office to complain about being forced to play in unsafe conditions and here's Rafa mouthing off to Pam Shriver on ESPN:
Rafa El Revolucionario
Roddick shared his sentiments saying: “I understand they need to put tennis on TV, and I understand the business side of it, but first and foremost the players need to be safe on the court.”
The moment of solidarity continued as Murray said: "The players, I think, more than anyone, want to play and that’s what we were kind of saying. With each day that passes, for the guys that are on me and Rafa’s side of the draw, it reduces our chances. So for us, we want to play. Four best-of-five matches in four days is a huge task physically, so that would be really tough. We want to play, but if it’s dangerous, we’re not going to go out there."
"When we went onto the court it was still raining, the back of the court, the net and the balls were wet too. We talked to the umpire but he said it was fine. So we told him it doesn’t make sense to get us out there for seven or eight minutes, so I don’t think that will happen again today."
Finally the USTA made an announcement that all the men's matches (fourth round and quarter-finals) were canceled for the day but they would do their utmost to get the women's quarter-finals done, spreading them on four courts simultaneously if a brief window between the rain allows it.
I love how the players stepped up like that, because it's not just for themselves, it's also for each other. Let's hope the next few days are less stressful!