Tennis star Dominic Thiem has suggested the upcoming US Open will be ‘worth much less’ due to the number of top-flight players giving the tournament a miss due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The grand slam is scheduled to go ahead on September 1, despite America being one of the worst-hit countries as a result of the pandemic.
More than five million Americans have been infected with the virus, resulting in more than 160,000 deaths.
Th extent of the crisis has resulted in many top-flight players pulling out of the tournament, including women’s world No.1 Ash Barty, as well as two-thirds of the so-called ‘Big Three’, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Austrian star Thiem will be at Flushing Meadows, but the world No.3 said the dearth of truly big names meant the value of the tournament was lessened somewhat.
“When the tour resumes, I will be ready. If it is not played, I will be a little more time at home. I see in a neutral way,” Thiem told The Standard.
“Tennis is one of the biggest sports in the world, and others like Formula 1 and basketball have already returned.
“It’s time for tennis to continue this trend.”
Dominic Thiem says US Open will be ‘worth less’
Thiem said the absence of key players would likely make the tournament bracket easier to progress through, but added all players would need to get used to the unconventional conditions.
Nonetheless, he accepted that there would be something of a asterisk on the winner of the 2020 event.
“The expectations for me are quite high. All of us will have a completely new experience. There will be no spectators, a very small team, staying only in the hotel,” he said.
“You have to be honest and keep in mind that many top players will not attend the tournament. That means going far in this tournament it would be worth much less than normal compared to the Australian Open this year.
“Despite that, I am looking forward to playing.”
In addition to Barty, Federer and Nadal, the likes of Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens also announced they would not be competing in New York this year.