- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - All matches at the U.S. Open on Wednesday have been called off because of rain.

After postponing all the men’s matches earlier in the day, tournament officials had been hoping to squeeze in four women’s quarterfinals. But at 8:15 p.m., with rain in the forecast for the rest of the night, those matches were scrapped too.

Only 15 minutes of tennis was played Wednesday, the second straight day that rain washed out play.

Matches will resume at 11 a.m. Thursday _ weather permitting.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) _ Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray got in about 15 minutes of tennis Wednesday _ barely enough to work up a sweat, but more than enough to get into a snit.

Rain washed out some matches for the second straight day at the U.S. Open, creating a logjam in the schedule and a bigger mess in the locker room, where the big-name players questioned the wisdom of putting them out on courts that were still damp thanks to a fine mist that was falling in the morning.

Shortly after they started, play was called, then late in the afternoon, the players were sent home _ their fourth-round matches now scheduled to be completed Thursday.

U.S. Tennis Association officials didn’t immediately cancel women’s play, knowing if they could squeeze any of those quarterfinal matches in, they could stay on some semblance of a schedule _ and make the TV broadcasters a bit happier.

The forecast in New York for Wednesday night called for a 100 percent chance of rain.

“Grand Slams is about a lot of money,” Nadal said in an interview on ESPN after falling behind 3-0 to unseeded Gilles Muller. “We’re part of the show. They’re just working for that, not for us. They know it’s still raining and call us onto the court. That’s not possible. … I understand the fans are there. But the players are important in this part of the show, too, and we didn’t feel protected.”

After being called off the court when the mist turned into rain, Nadal, Roddick and Murray all went to the tournament director’s office to discuss the situation.

Aware of the criticism, the USTA released a statement, saying there appeared to be a two-hour window without rain in the morning and because of that, officials decided to start play.

“Unfortunately, not all light rain and mist shows up on radar,” the USTA said. “We have experienced referees, and they decide if courts are fit for play. Conditions may be not ideal, but still can be safe. However, if a player or players feel that conditions are unsafe, we listen to them, as we have always done, and the referee uses that information as part of his/her assessment on whether to continue or halt play.”

Two men’s quarterfinal matches _ Roger Federer against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic against Janko Tipsarevic _ were postponed earlier in the day.

With rain showers lingering over the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the second straight day, this debate about safety, money, weather and scheduling had to suffice for the afternoon’s, and maybe the evening’s, entertainment.

Murray and Roddick also weighed in.

“It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense in the end to go out for nine or 10 minutes when it’s still raining,” Murray told The Associated Press.

Nadal conceded he let his reluctance get to him, which played into a pair of double-faults in his opening service game and his early 3-0 deficit.

No. 4 Murray was trailing 2-1 to American Donald Young, but on serve. No. 21 Roddick got an early break and led No. 5 David Ferrer 3-1. Roddick was playing in front of a few hundred fans in Louis Armstrong Stadium. He said he spoke to the chair umpire before play began.

“I was just wondering if he saw the same mist in the air that I saw,” Roddick told the AP. “The back was still a little wet. I understand everyone wants to see it on TV and certainly, at the end of the day, we’re a sport, but this whole thing is a business. Everyone here is kind of in the same boat, so they need a product on the court.”

The match between No. 28 John Isner and No. 12 Gilles Simon was moved to Court 17 in an attempt to complete the fourth round as soon as possible. But the rain started before they hit a single ball.

Because of the rain, which washed out the entire day of play Tuesday, all players in the bottom half of the draw were faced with the possibility of having to win four matches in four days to win the U.S. Open. And as the day wore on with nobody back on the courts, a Monday finish was looking more probable.

One person who liked the way the whole thing was playing out: Jimmy Connors, who was in the indoor practice facility hitting with Jim Courier in the afternoon _ tucked on a court between Serena Williams and Tsonga.

“I like it because it’s more than tennis now,” Connors said. “The tennis is primary, but how you deal with all the surroundings, the scheduling, the rain, on-and-off and things like that, this is old school. It’s why they call it the toughest tennis in town.”


AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

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