September 3, 2003
NEW YORK CITY
ARLEN KANTARIAN: I wish I could say I was happy to see you all here again. Thanks again for your patience. As mentioned yesterday, we continue to make our best effort to complete this tournament on time. That challenge, of course, has gotten all the more challenging. However, we have just come out of a two and a half hour meeting, and we are determined to make the best of a very difficult situation. I'll inform you as to what our plans are, not only with regards to the assumption that there be a rain delay or rain-out tonight, but we're thinking ahead, and I will give you our current plans, at least, should we have bad weather tomorrow. This situation has achieved one thing, and that is that the tennis community has clearly pulled together over the last half a day. As I say, we've been locked in a room with the WTA, with the ATP, certainly our tournament officials, our international television broadcasters, our domestic television broadcasters. We've asked their advice, for their support. They've been absolutely supportive and tremendous under these circumstances. I want to take the opportunity to thank them. USA Network, CBS, again, many, many international broadcasters, and first and foremost, our players, ATP and WTA. We have addressed the best means to achieve both fairness and competition - fairness to our fans, again, fairness to a world-wide television audience, not only the fans that have been our tried and true ticketholders. To that end, we're going to advise you of what the current plan is at this moment. First, of course, as you probably already heard, today's session has been cancelled. The inclement weather policy is now in effect. In addition to that policy, all ticketholders for today's matches can apply the face value of their ticket for any session during the week, either tomorrow day, tomorrow evening, or Friday day. What I want to do is give you our plans first with the assumption that tonight's - not to get ahead of ourselves - but with the assumption tonight's session is, in fact, going to be cancelled. Our plan tomorrow, and our schedule tomorrow, will include the following: first and foremost, completion of the women's Round of 16 where we have two matches yet to be completed. The Sugiyama-Schiavone match as well as the Pierce-Myskina match will be first on tomorrow. Jim Curley will give you more details behind that. Secondly, we will look to complete tomorrow during the day the men's Round of 16. Matches will be played in the appropriate courts in order to get the Round of 16 in for the day session tomorrow. Tomorrow's night session will include two of the quarterfinal women's matches, which, again, Jim Curley, our tournament director, will confirm with you in a moment. That's tomorrow's line-up. Basically, we want to get the women's quarterfinals and the men's Round of 16 in with the men certainly playing in the day. Looking at Friday's schedule, we're announcing the addition of a night session for Friday night. As you know, we have the day session already planned originally for the women's semifinals between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.. That 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. session will now consist of the men's quarterfinals matches, between the hours of 11 and 6 p.m.. The night session, start time to be determined, roughly 7, 7:30 p.m., will then consist of the women's semifinals matches. We are continuing our discussions with our television partners. We hopefully will announce shortly, probably not until tomorrow, when and where that would be televised. That discussion continues to take place. In addition to that, we will be communicating frequently with our ticket buyers through radio, hopefully through the media here, on air, and we will continue to apply our inclement weather policy across the board. The fans have been terrific. I hope you've all seen them on the court, chanting for more tennis. One last comment, and I'll turn it over to Jim. Should we see inclement weather tomorrow, the plan is to take exactly what we went through and push it all back by one day, which, in effect, would mean a Monday men's final. Therefore, on Friday, we have the men's Round of 16, the women's quarters. Saturday, men's quarters during the day session on Saturday; Saturday night, originally planned for the women's finals, would be the women's semifinals. Sunday would be the men's semifinals, then the women's finals. Then Monday, the men's finals. That is subject to change. I'm just trying to give you an insight as to where we might go should tomorrow be rained out as well. So not to get ahead of ourselves, that schedule is subject to change. That's the initial thinking. Players have been advised of our tentative plans. All players, other than tonight's night session, have been sent home and they've been advised of the plans that I just advised you on as well. So what has become a tremendous challenge on the downside, weather permitting, we hope to have a tennis bonanza over the next four or five days. I'm going to turn it over to Jim Curley, who will give you a little more detail on the schedule.
JIM CURLEY: Well, we're working on tomorrow's schedule as we speak. The initial plan for the show courts, that you might be interested in, for Arthur Ashe, it will be the completion of the Kim Clijsters-Amelie Mauresmo match, followed by Lindsay Davenport and Paola Suarez. On the assumption that the Roddick-Malisse match does not take place this evening, that match would be third up on Arthur Ashe tomorrow. On Armstrong we would start with the Sugiyama-Schiavone match, the Round of 16 match, which I believe it's 5-4 in the second. That would be to finish. Followed by Juan Carlos Ferrero and Todd Martin, also to finish. Followed by David Nalbandian and Roger Federer. In the Grandstand, to finish, Srichaphan and Hewitt. Followed by Moya and El Aynaoui. I think that's been the focus of our scheduling meetings on the singles. The rest of the schedule, as I say, is being worked on right now. We'll have that for you, hopefully, very soon.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: At this point we'll take any questions you might have.
Q. The plan would be then to finish the two incomplete fourth-round women's matches during the day and have them play those quarterfinals tomorrow night?
JIM CURLEY: That is correct.
Q. What would happen to the women's prime-time final if it moved to Sunday?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: In other words, if it rains tomorrow?
Q. On television, yeah.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: That's a situation that we're not yet prepared to address. We don't know, and still under discussion with our TV partners. I gave you that information, again, a day ahead of time to give you some insight, but a lot to be addressed tonight. We'll be working through the night on that.
Q. If it's bumped till Monday, would the men's final still be at 4 p.m.?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: To be determined. Probably late afternoon, but time to be determined.
Q. What's the situation for ticketholders who now might be facing a cancelled session or ones who would be coming today who had cancelled sessions?
DAVID NEWMAN: People that have had tickets for cancelled sessions have the opportunity to exchange their tickets at face value for any of the sessions going forward right through the finals, whenever they may be completed. That will remain true. Needless to say, with the amount of rain that we have had, it has affected our ability to accommodate those who maybe came from Monday on Tuesday, Tuesday on Wednesday, etc. The best place for fans - we ask if you can help us with this - is just to direct everyone to US Open.org. It has specific information on the inclement weather policy. It is crystal clear there, and it will be reported as such very accurately if you help us with that.
Q. If there's nice weather tomorrow, will there suddenly be a bunch-up where all the fans from last few days will be arriving on the same day?
DAVID NEWMAN: As discussed previously, the tickets and the accommodation of those displaced ticketholders is on a first-come, first-serve and on a limited basis. We hope we can accommodate as many as possible. That's what we look forward to for the balance of the weekend.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: The good news is that I think we're in a position to accommodate them, given all the marquee match-ups we'll have, not only on Arthur Ashe but Louis Armstrong, Grandstand courts, etc. The good news is to the degree we can play tomorrow, we believe we'll be able to accommodate more fans than just those tickets left in Ashe stadium.
Q. If weather doesn't allow you to complete all of the Round of 16 matches tomorrow, do you automatically go into the mode of bumping everything ahead a day?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: As you would imagine, this is a rolling calendar at this point that is changing, to a large degree, by the hour. It is very difficult to hypothetically assess what might come into play. I think there is eight different contingencies that we would need to know to answer that question, one being the weather forecast, of course. I think to speculate would be difficult on every imaginable situation.
Q. For players who are still in both singles and doubles - like Clijsters, Sugiyama - has there been a maximum cap on the number of matches they would be expected to finish in one day?
JIM CURLEY: I'm not aware of a maximum cap that we can expect them to play. Our first and foremost priority is to complete the singles, and we are going to do our best to get the doubles completed after we take the singles into consideration.
Q. Why did you cancel all the matches for tonight except for two?
JIM CURLEY: That's correct.
Q. Why? Why did you leave two open?
JIM CURLEY: I'm sorry, I missed...
Why did we leave...
Q. Only two matches open for tonight.
JIM CURLEY: For the pairings? For tonight?
Q. You cancelled everything except the Roddick and Schuettler match.
JIM CURLEY: That's correct. We're keeping them here because they're in the same pairings.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: If the question is why didn't we schedule more matches tonight, is that the question?
Q. Why did you skip the rest of the matches and leave those two open?
JIM CURLEY: Well, Roddick was scheduled at 7 o'clock tonight. He's still scheduled at 7 o'clock tonight. In his pairing is the Schuettler-Schalken match, okay. So we keep both of them so we maintain the pairings. So with regards to why did we release everyone else - is that your question - by releasing them now, that allows us to create our schedule for tomorrow. If we keep everyone here too late tonight, we can't bring people back early tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock.
Q. Arlen, I would presume that, if necessary, the women's semis would go into the Saturday night prime-time slot; is that correct? Secondly, I know it's a tough question, but do you have any sensibility on what kind of financial implications all this weather will have?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: The first answer to your question is yes. The second answer to your question is a lot (laughter).
Q. What does "a lot" mean? A pretty significant amount?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: We have not yet assessed that. We'll have a lot of work to do after the tournament. Our priorities right now are the schedule and the players and the fans. That is a lengthy exercise that we will contemplate after we get through the tournament.
Q. You seem to be dealing with small windows when it's not raining. Can you tell me why, A, you wouldn't start at 9 o'clock in the morning, for example; and, B, if you do get some windows, why wouldn't you use all the courts to get all your matches in as opposed to lining them up one after another after another, so if you get a small window you could get a lot more in?
JIM CURLEY: Well, we're not lacking for courts. Brian, do you want to answer this one?
BRIAN EARLEY: We have people that have been here late. I mean, it's not just a matter of cranking up the courts at 9 in the morning and just playing away. It's a professional event. It's a Grand Slam. We're doing the best we can. We still are obligated on some of these matches to have them televised. We have international TV contracts, so several can go on what we consider televised or show courts. There's lots of things that go into that. The other thing is if you do that, in other words if you have 16 matches to play, you put them on 16 courts, and you have a program, ticketholders who come, suddenly it's a nice day, you play one match on each of 16 courts, then what do you have? I'm not trying to be facetious. You want to put a good program together.
Q. Some of the players were talking to us, they were confused about why someone like Andre Agassi, who would be playing to get into the quarterfinals when the other people weren't, or why Kim Clijsters would go on this morning when you had two women's fourth-round matches that haven't finished yet would be playing first.
JIM CURLEY: There are a lot of factors. When you get into a situation like we're in right now, a lot of factors come into play. We're doing the best we can in the situation that we have. The Clijsters-Mauresmo match was an appropriate match to have on Ashe. You had a match that - I'm trying to remember what courts we had with Pierce and Myskina.
BRIAN EARLEY: Courts 4 and 10 are the courts we're talking about. Those matches, they kept hanging around here trying to play until late, late, late last night. The only thing, the only fair thing, was to bring them back not before 1 o'clock today, which is what we did. We had the courts ready at 1. Just the window closed like that (snapping).
Q. The players themselves were saying they were confused. They were willing to play. They would rather play today than extend to tomorrow. Certainly, Brian, they appreciate your concern. They were curious whether it was just because of television or just because of show courts that some of the earlier-round matches were getting played or scheduled later than some of the later-round matches of star players?
JIM CURLEY: We're not ahead two rounds anywhere, correct?
BRIAN EARLEY: Well, if they had played, I suppose they would be ahead; but they're not because they didn't play. You're talking about the two quarters, they would be ahead. Remember, we released them at an early enough time last night that we could bring them back early. Again, you need to make a program. You need to start with a good match, and so we released -- so the quarters were released early enough so we could bring them back early. The two unfinished matches were just so, so late. You remember what time they were. I don't have to tell you. To bring them back first on would have been terribly unfair. We did have the court ready, like I said. This morning we took that into consideration when it was raining. We pulled off the matches in front of them in order to give them every possibility of play.
JIM CURLEY: Exactly.
BRIAN EARLEY: It started sprinkling at 1 o'clock.
JIM CURLEY: This is something that wasn't done in a vacuum. This was something that was done in conjunction with the WTA Tour. As Brian said, we kept them very late. It's very normal for us to bring them back second on when we kept them that late. As I said, that was not a decision made in a vacuum. It was done in conjunction with the tour.
Q. On the added Friday night schedule, since no tickets have been printed for that session, who would have the first priority for ticketholders for that: people who have women's semifinals tickets in the first place, or first-come?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: At this point, and, again, subject to change, but at this point our feeling is the day session, current day session ticketholders on Friday, those will continue to be the tickets honored for the 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. session. For the Friday night session, our thought right now is to the degree tonight's session is washed out, Wednesday night's tickets - again, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves because we do not yet have a cancelled session - tonight's tickets would be those that would be honored for Friday night.
Q. You made the comment, Jim, you're not lacking in courts. Again, I guess this goes back to the fact you're dealing in very small, short windows of available time at the moment. Although you're not lacking in courts, you do seem to be lacking in people ready to clear the courts for play. Is that a problem?
JIM CURLEY: We have addressed that issue. If you followed what we had this morning, we've increased the number of squeegees we have available on all the major show courts. We've increased the number of tournament ops individuals. We've enlisted the assistance from ball kids. I don't think that was an issue at all as far as today's play was concerned.
DAVID NEWMAN: In addition, certainly with the rain that we had today, it really wouldn't matter. It's pretty much rained the bulk of the day. Additionally, the question about practice courts have come up. We've cleared out the indoor facilities, so we have practice courts on site. In fact, we've had a number of players on them earlier today. This afternoon it was a little bit quiet over there. We have made a variety and number of changes.
Q. If the Sugiyama match happened at the same time the Clijsters-Mauresmo match started, that match would be finished by now?
JIM CURLEY: Again, that gets back to what time it was originally scheduled. That was the decision that was made in conjunction with the tour, to have them in not before 1.
BRIAN EARLEY: They were here late last night.
DAVID NEWMAN: I think the purpose of what we're trying to share here, certainly with what is going on in the New York area weather-wise that has directly impacted this tournament, there are a number of decisions that you have to take into consideration, a variety of things. To try to do these on a quick basis, you make decisions, and we all go forward from there. What we have tried to do getting together with everyone here is to discuss what we're doing going forward. There's not much that we can do looking backward. So we made a variety of changes to the operations of the National Tennis Center from yesterday to today. Going forward, we have a schedule which hopefully we can adhere to. If we're not able to do that, we will, in turn, make subsequent changes to our program as it currently stands.
Q. Two and a half part question. What's the forecast look like from your three weather subscriber services? Do you sense from your meetings we have reached a crisis mode yet. And if not now, when?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: On the weather front, I believe Brian or Jim might be the most up-to-date on our three weather reports.
BRIAN EARLEY: It's a bit of a mixed bag. They don't all agree.
DAVID NEWMAN: Imagine that.
BRIAN EARLEY: Much like you would expect. I just read one 15, 20 minutes ago that says we should do very well tomorrow, especially in the afternoon. Also, I read another one that was not quite so optimistic. I spoke to a meteorologist on the phone, which I do quite often these days, he was somewhere in the middle. I don't pretend to be able to predict the weather, but it's just not an exact science.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: I think the gentleman had a follow-up question. I'm sorry.
Q. In the meetings, do you get a sense you've reached crisis mode yet? If not now, then when?
JIM CURLEY: That's making an assumption we're going to be panicking. I don't think so.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: This is a tennis tournament. I don't think it's a crisis.
JIM CURLEY: Right.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: It's certainly challenging. You'll see a lot of bleary eyes up here, given the all-nighters that this will necessitate from tournament operators and officials. But I would not categorize this as a crisis mode given what we've seen going on in the world the last couple years - absolutely not.
Q. I guess in defining "crisis," I meant pushing it back past Sunday.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Certainly not desirable. Disappointing that because the US Open serves as the showcase for our sport and for our mission here at the USTA, that that's very disappointing. Obviously, we have less viewers watching the talent out here on a Monday or on a Tuesday. So from that standpoint, certainly disappointing. This is our opportunity to really showcase the sport of tennis, showcase these incredible athletes. From that standpoint, it is certainly disappointing for the sport that we didn't have that platform that we typically have. But I think that's probably the most disappointing situation for all of us here.
Q. This is a question for Arlen. What, looking back, were you most unprepared for with this inclement weather? What will you look to be better prepared for next year?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Well, I think I've heard a lot of discussions about tarps. I can't recall yet a particular session where a tarp would have cut down significantly on the time. I know Brian and Jim have spent an inordinate amount of time studying what, on a hard court surface, can help to dry those courts as soon as possible. They operate very differently than grass or clay where water sinks into the grass or clay; therefore, you need a tarp. But I don't believe tarp is necessarily the answer. That's not to say that given the experiences we've had we're not going to look at everything come this fall and this spring. 20/20 hindsight on the roof is always easy to reach. We told you yesterday that we're going to look into the possibility, whether it be Louis Armstrong, Grandstand, what have you, the possibility of a roof in the future. So in hindsight, obviously we're very jealous of that retractable roof at the Australian Open. But other than that, I think I don't see that we could have possibly done anything differently at this point. We may be asking you to bring your own towel tomorrow to help us with the courts. But other than that, I don't think we've yet run low on the towels yet. So the guys are working hard. They're doing everything possible. It's just a situation where I don't think a tarp would have improved; a roof certainly would have.
Q. Anything in terms of communications, the scheduling or the unavailability of practice courts for players here, an indoor facility?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: We have - and at some point I'd be glad to show this group our model - six months ago and in the recent three months, we have a plan to create a state-of-the-art indoor tennis facility, part of which is why we raised the money through this bond issue I announced yesterday. We're very excited about it. It provides five additional courts. It's actually a rebuilding of the tennis center -- of the indoor tennis building, rather. I think that will obviously help the practice court situation, which is one of the primary reasons we're doing that down the road. So I think from a practice court standpoint in the rain, the solution is right now defined. It's a matter of how quickly we can build that.
Q. Then the other aspect, communications with the players and scheduling, either mistakes, or have things gone the way you would have wanted them to in terms of dealing with this sort of situation?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: The player communication is handled by the tournament director, the referee, our associates with the WTA and the ATP. If there's anything that Brian or Jim would like to address in that scenario...
JIM CURLEY: We're always looking to improve the communication with the players, the ATP, the WTA Tour. Do you always get it 100 percent correct? No. But it's our goal to approach that level.
Q. How long are you looking at giving it tonight before calling it a day?
DAVID NEWMAN: Cancellation policy is 9:45 as it relates to the public. So we have probably about an hour or so left, two hours.
JIM CURLEY: That's correct, couple hours.
Q. Do you know how many people actually arrived today?
DAVID NEWMAN: We'll try to give you that number. Off the top of our heads we don't have that.
TIM CURRY: Transcripts will be made available as soon as they're ready. Final question.
Q. Will you play doubles finals on Monday even if the singles are finished?
JIM CURLEY: It depends who's in the doubles final. I mean, it's something that we're going to --
Q. Would doubles play only on Monday, is the question.
JIM CURLEY: Oh, the answer is if necessary, yes.
Q. Is there a time for tomorrow that the Mary Pierce-Myskina match would be finished in order for her to play the night session?
JIM CURLEY: That would just be reasonable rest.
TIM CURRY: Thank you.
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