- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2009

NEW YORK | After two consecutive years of rain-delayed singles finals, the U.S. Open is not committed to adding a roof.

And despite grousing by players about the men’s semifinals and final being held on back-to-back days - unlike the other Grand Slam tournaments - organizers are not seriously looking at tweaking their schedule.

While rain wreaked havoc with the U.S. Open again Saturday, tournament officials faced questions on everything from improvements for the tennis center to the Grand Slam’s three-day first round.

“It will be some time before there’s any decision made on whether or not to go forward with the roof,” U.S. Tennis Association executive director Gordon Smith said. “We would be looking at issues some years down the road, and the present economy has not slowed the process at all.

“We want to move that process along, looking long term and not at the current economy.”

Last year, when Tropical Storm Hanna rolled into New York and forced the first Monday men’s final since 1987, then-USTA executive Arlen Kantarian said a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium was “a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if.’ ”

The USTA appointed a group to study the infrastructure at the tennis center and received preliminary roof plans from a Kansas City architecture firm, but it doesn’t appear to be much closer to a concrete solution a year later.

“We will take the time to make the right decision, and will not hold ourselves to a specific timetable,” said Lucy Garvin, president and chief executive officer of the USTA board.

U.S. Open officials also didn’t seem too eager to examine the tournament schedule, even after facing some barbs from Rafael Nadal, who closed out his rain-delayed quarterfinal victory over Fernando Gonzalez.

Tennis’ last major of the year is the only Grand Slam that doesn’t provide a day of rest between the semifinals and finals. It makes for a full TV schedule for Saturday - both men’s semifinals and the women’s final - but forces the finalists to play grueling, back-to-back matches to decide the tournament.

TV troubles

During hour No. 5 of the rain delay Saturday, CBS put a graphic on the screen with the title “Tournament Summary.”

The first entry: “Connors advanced to play Courier in the 1991 semifinals.”

Yes, the TV producers are scrambling this weekend.

Out of desperation, the CBS coverage has turned into a mix of ESPN Classic and The Weather Channel - some entertaining, albeit old, footage of U.S. Opens past, along with weather updates, live shots of the rain, a bit of chitchat and the occasional video essay from Dick Enberg.

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