Tennis fans and commentators are questioning the fairness of the US Open schedule, after a number of American players appeared to get preferential treatment on Tuesday (local time). Jelena Ostapenko expressed her frustrations with the scheduling for her quarter-final clash with Coco Gauff, after she was made to play in oppressive heat in the middle of the day, despite her win over Iga Swiatek two nights ago finishing after midnight.
The Latvian was demolished 6-0 6-2 by Gauff in a disappointing display after her upset of World No.1 Swiatek. Speaking in her post-match press conference, Ostapenko claimed she was told by organisers that her match against Gauff would be at night on Tuesday.
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Instead it was scheduled at midday, and Ostapenko completely wilted in some oppressive heat. The former French Open champion described the move as "crazy" considering she didn't get back to her hotel until well after midnight two nights ago.
“Today was not really good match from me,” she said. “I think it’s really hard to recover from those night matches, because after beating World No. 1, I went to sleep at like 5 in the morning.
“You sleep for, I don’t know, maybe like seven, eight hours, but you completely don’t recover. Yesterday the whole day I felt very low energy. I thought today I was going to wake up and feel better. But honestly, I didn’t really feel much better. I think it’s a little bit crazy."
Jelena Ostapenko was told that her match with Coco Gauff at US Open would be a night session:
“When I asked the day before, I was pretty sure I’d play a night session bc that’s what they told me. When the schedule came out, I saw I was playing 1st match. I was like ‘Wow. That’s… pic.twitter.com/U0vdVugJMN
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) September 5, 2023
Coco Gauff supports Jelena Ostapenko's gripe
Ostapenko said she struggled with the heat and bright sunshine. “If I play a match, a late-night session, then I suppose in one day I have to play at least at the same time or later on, because you don’t really have much time to recover. I was pretty sure I’m gonna play at night session (against Gauff), because that’s what they told me," she said.
“When I saw the schedule I was a little bit surprised, not in a really good way. It was very hard to see the ball, because half of the court was in the shadow and half was in the sun. I felt like I was reacting too late because of the shadow.”
Gauff expressed her sympathy for her opponent, saying: "It is definitely a valid thing. I remember in Montreal I had to play Marketa (Vondrousova), and we finished around 11pm and then played the next day at 1 or 2. Luckily the match before us went long but I am still at the site and everything.
"Ostapenko had to play the second night match. I don't know what time she practiced the next day, but it is definitely a different feeling. Yeah it definitely plays a factor, maybe more so mentally than physically, because physically you have the day in between but mentally these days go by fast."
Novak Djokovic caught up in US Open scheduling furore
Questions have also been asked as to why Novak Djokovic's clash with Taylor Fritz was scheduled in the day session as well. The mercury hit 32 degrees celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) in New York on Tuesday, and the humidity hit 50 per cent.
A number of fans and commentators claimed the move to put Ostapenko and Djokovic in the day session was aimed at benefiting Americans Gauff and Fritz - who would seemingly be more used to the heat than their European opponents. American great Andy Roddick said before the match: "Conditions better for [Fritz] during day. He wants as much heat as possible to potentially affect things. Court plays quicker during the day. Needs things to be extreme. If I’m him, I’d rather have hit as hot as possible during the day."
It certainly paid off for Gauff, however Djokovic managed to see off Fritz in straight sets. The clash of Americans Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton was scheduled in the prime-time night session, with Djokovic relegated to the day despite being a 23-time grand slam champion (three of which have come at the US Open). The move to put two Americans in the prime-time spot at their home grand slam isn't surprising, but many in the tennis world were left crying foul.
While some slammed Ostapenko for complaining, many felt she had a very valid point considering the brutal turnaround between matches. British player Jamie Murray tweeted: "Very unfair scheduling. Only one reason for this."
I’m not the biggest Ostapenko’s fan, and usually, I’m not agree with her.
But, liking her or not, you have to admit something is wrong with the scheduling. Absolutely no way her match against Gauff for a SF spot at the US Open wasn’t a night session. https://t.co/xnqEoh1XkE
— Yoann (@sweetbackhand) September 5, 2023
its hard for me to look at the US Open this season and have my first thought for the event being - RIGGED.
Djokers' draw was the biggest joke that i've ever seen and then you add in the scheduling bias with the Penko-Gauff match today was an absolute joke.
— rick marsonet (@RMarsonet) September 5, 2023
Feel like I'm reading today's #USOpen schedule in reverse. Surprised that ESPN didn't get Coco at night, and Djokovic didn't get his match at night, when it's (slightly) cooler
— Steve Tignor (@SteveTignor) September 5, 2023
Very unfair scheduling. Only one reason for this.
— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) September 5, 2023
At US Open everyone plays 1 night match and then 1 day match.
That's the case with Coco - the local favourite. That's the case with Djokovic - 23 Grand Slam titles.
This is the most fair schedule you're gonna get. Ostapenko as usual crying about everything after a loss..
— Ivo (@ivogenov) September 5, 2023
it absolutely should have been. zero question. zero doubt.
— rick marsonet (@RMarsonet) September 5, 2023
Is US Open schedule rigged just to give home favorite Taylor Fritz an advantage against Novak Djokovic? Andy Roddick breaks down how the day matches would benefit Fritzhttps://t.co/vNXeRCHNEK
— C Kristjánsdóttir ●🐊 (@CristinaNcl) September 5, 2023
#Djokovic the undisputed 🐐 has managed to fool the biased schedule directors that it’s a disadvantage playing him in blistering heat …so delusional coz the other player suffers just at much. #USOpen2023 #Fritz #NoleFamily
— Thando (@GrayHope4) September 5, 2023
US Open being biased towards American players is just ridiculous and the crowd is the worst too by far the worst slam
— 𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗲 🇳🇱 (@veloceleclerc) September 5, 2023
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