US Open adds extra day in 2013; men’s final Monday

The U.S. Open tennis tournament is moving the women’s final to

Sunday and men’s final to Monday in 2013, building in a day of rest

ahead of each title match for the first time.

The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the Grand Slam event

played in New York, announced the changes Friday – but only for

next year.

A decision about 2014 and beyond probably will come after the

2013 tournament, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

Rain forced the USTA to postpone the men’s final from its

scheduled Sunday slot to Monday each of the past five years.

Some top male players complained that the U.S. Open was the

sport’s only major tournament that put their semifinals and final

on consecutive days. The men’s semifinals in New York will stay on

Saturday under the new plan.

Friday’s moves end the tradition of what the U.S. Open has

called ”Super Saturday” since 1984, with both men’s semifinals

and the women’s final all on that day’s schedule at Flushing

Meadows, followed by the men’s final Sunday.

Wimbledon, the French Open and Australian Open follow another

pattern: women’s semifinals Thursday, men’s semifinals Friday,

women’s final Saturday, men’s final Sunday. The U.S. Open now joins

the French Open – which starts and ends on Sundays – as 15-day

Grand Slam tournaments.

As part of the new schedule, the USTA is scrapping its Saturday

night session in 2013; the women’s final had been played in prime

time since 2001.

Now the women’s final will be in the old men’s final time slot,

4 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday. The men’s final will be at 5 p.m.

(2100 GMT) on Sept. 9. The tournament will start on Aug. 26.

The USTA also announced Friday that total prize money in 2013

will jump $4 million to a record $29.5 million. The increase is the

largest in tournament history, doubling the roughly $2 million hike

from 2011 to 2012.

The USTA has not decided how the new money will be

distributed.

”Both the prize money increase and the addition of a day of

rest are great for the players,” four-time U.S. Open champion

Serena Williams said in a statement issued via the USTA. ”These

moves make the tournament stronger than it’s ever been for all

players.”

Williams’ title in New York this year, her 15th at a major

tournament, came on a Sunday, the fourth time in the past five

years the women’s final was delayed a day because of rain.

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 has been scheduling

two men’s semifinals a day before the men’s final, which leaves

less room for scheduling flexibility when there is disruptive

weather.

”We listened to the players and understood we needed to

accommodate their request for an extra day of rest between the

semifinals and final. … The USTA reached out to many of the top

players, player agents, as well as the respective tours,” Widmaier

said.

”So far, everything has been fairly positive. The day of rest

is being embraced across the board,” he added. ”Because of the

nature of the game, and to assure a final that can be played at the

highest competitive level, you need an extra day of rest. We

recognized that.”

In a statement released by the USTA, 2012 champion Andy Murray

said: ”I’m pleased that the USTA has modified the U.S. Open

schedule to include a day of rest between the semifinals and final.

Together with the prize money increase, it’s good that they’ve

taken on board the players’ concerns.”

Widmaier said the tournament still needs to figure out on which

days the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles finals will be played

next year. One reason for the need to reschedule: The women’s

doubles championship match has been on Sunday in the past, but

can’t be in 2013, with the singles shifting to that day.

”We appreciate the USTA’s announcement of increased prize money

and 40 years of equal compensation for the athletes of our sport,”

WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said. ”The changes made for the 2013 U.S.

Open are steps in the right direction.”

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