Wheelchair players now told they could play in U.S. Open

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There might be wheelchair tennis competition at the 2020 U.S. Open, after all.

The U.S. Tennis Association acknowledged Friday it should have consulted wheelchair athletes before announcing their events at Flushing Meadows were being canceled – and now is willing to change its stance.

USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said in a telephone interview that there are three options on the table for U.S. Open wheelchair tennis, including the original plan to offer a fund for those athletes in place of having them play in New York during the Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 Grand Slam tournament.

The plan announced Wednesday for holding a scaled-down tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic included cutting various competitions to reduce the number of people on-site for better social distancing. Wheelchair, junior and mixed doubles competitions were dropped altogether, singles qualifying was eliminated, too, and the fields for women’s and men’s doubles were halved to 32 teams apiece.

The USTA is giving $3.3 million to each of the men’s and women’s tours to distribute to players who will miss out on participating in singles qualifying or a full, 64-team doubles draw.

After some wheelchair athletes complained about their exclusion, the USTA said in a statement Friday that CEO Mike Dowse, U.S. Open tournament diector Stacey Allaster and wheelchair tournament director Jo Wallen spoke on the telephone with players and wheelchair tennis leadership from the International Tennis Federation.

“On the call, the USTA acknowledged that the Association should have communicated directly, and worked in a collaborative manner, with the wheelchair athletes when developing the plan for the 2020 U.S. Open, as it had done with both the ATP and WTA,” the statement said. “The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF to explore a number of potential scenarios for the Wheelchair Competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition.”

Widmaier would not go into details about the options the USTA offered.

But wheelchair athlete Stephane Houdet — who has won two of his four Grand Slam singles titles, and four of his 18 Grand Slam doubles titles at the U.S. Open — tweeted about them:

— cancel the 2020 competition but have $150,000 in total compensation for wheelchair athletes;

— hold the U.S. Open wheelchair matches in Orlando, Florida, where the USTA National Campus is;

— hold the competition in Flushing Meadows during the U.S. Open but with a 5% reduction in compensation from 2019, which was $325,000.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.