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Once again, Mother Nature slows down Open



Published: Sun, September 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press

NEW YORK

With a potentially dangerous storm bearing down on the U.S. Open, play was suspended in the first set of defending champion Novak Djokovic’s semifinal Saturday, making this the fifth consecutive year the tournament will fail to finish on time because of the weather.

Djokovic was trailing fourth-seeded David Ferrer 5-2 after about a half-hour of action when tournament referee Brian Earley came out on court and told the players and the chair umpire that they needed to stop.

As some spectators at Arthur Ashe Stadium booed or whistled, an announcement over the loudspeakers said: “At this time, we ask you to please make your way out of the stadium in an orderly fashion.”

That match, which will determine who faces Olympic champion Andy Murray in the final, was scheduled to resume today at 11 a.m. The men’s final was shifted from its originally scheduled Sunday slot to Monday — something that has happened at every U.S. Open since 2008.

“I would say we’re getting very tired of having Monday finals,” tournament director David Brewer said.

The women’s final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka that was supposed to be played Saturday night was shifted to today at 4:30 p.m. It’s the fourth time in the last five years the women’s title match was rescheduled.

Unlike at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, the U.S. Open does not have a roof to protect any court used for tournament matches. It’s also the only Grand Slam tournament that schedules two men’s semifinals on Saturday, which leaves less room for scheduling flexibility when there is disruptive weather.

Next year, for the first time, a day off will be inserted between the semifinals and final, either by shifting the semis to Friday or by changing the title match to Monday.

Brewer said he did consider moving the Ferrer-Djokovic match to another court and playing it at the same time as Murray-Berdych, but “we thought the only way to go was to keep them back-to-back” in Ashe out of deference to ticket-holders, TV partners and viewers around the world.

There was a rain delay of more than an hour Saturday morning, delaying the start of Murray’s 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the opening semifinal. At least they got to finish, even if it meant dealing with 20 mph wind that blew a changeover chair onto the court on one point and yanked Murray’s hat off during another.


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