Wed Sep 07 04:01pm EDT
Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick joined together to protest U.S. Open playing conditions on Wednesday after tournament officials made the decision to begin their fourth-round matches while courts were still wet.
The three players met with tournament referee Brian Earley to lodge complaints. In separate interviews with ESPN, each player expressed disappointment with having to play on wet courts in a light mist but spoke positively of the meeting with Earley.
"We don't feel protected. We don't feel protected by the tournament. Grand Slams are worth a lot of money and we are part of the show. They are just working for that, not for us. They know we are still waiting and they call us on court. That cannot be possible. They dried the court for 45 minutes but the rain never stopped. The court was dry for 10 minutes but then after 10 minutes we had to go in. [...] I understand the fans are there. The health of the players are important in this part of the show too and we don't feel protected.
"We have to fight to change that, to have enough power to say, we don't want to go on court when it's raining, not for Rafael Nadal to say he doesn't want to go on court."
"I think if it's up for discussion whether the court's playable, then that probably means it's not playable. Walking out there it was still misting and the back of the courts were a bit wet. I know it's not our choice, but at least it was important for us to make it known that we didn't want to be put in that position again. Now we're on the same page.
"It probably hits home a little more when there's three of us standing there instead of just one. I certainly understand they need to put tennis on TV and I understand the business side of it, but first and foremost the players need to feel comfortable and safe.
"To Brian Early's credit, when we did go in there he listened to us. He was great about it. We certainly understand his position."
"When we went out onto the court, it was still raining. The back of the court was soaking wet. The balls were really wet, too. Everyone I spoke to mentioned it to the umpire. It doesn't really make sense to try and get out there for seven or eight minutes and then having to come back inside. I think that's why everyone was kind of disappointed and why I don't think it will happen again today.
"It's dangerous. The lines get really really slippy. We want to play more than everyone but not when it's dangerous."
Nadal's comments were the most incendiary, not surprising considering how upset he was during his brief time on court. Roddick's point is best. If you don't know whether the courts are dry enough, they're not dry enough.
Rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. If the players got through to Earley on Wednesday, they won't be forced to play in it.
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