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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday August 22, 2020

 
Dominic Thiem

Top players like Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev say get ready for a wild ride at the US Open.

Photo Source: Mark Peterson / Corleve

According to top players, nobody is safe at the US Open.

Speaking at Media Day for the Western and Southern Open, several top players hinted that the 2020 US Open could be a wild ride, especially for top players that have grown accustomed to feeding off the energy of New York’s rowdy fans and late-night finishes.

Tennis Express

“Tennis is such a mental sport, and I guess it makes it way more difficult without fans, because I just imagine playing in the fifth set on Arthur Ashe, night session, way past midnight, and in a normal year you get so much energy from the fans. They give you so much, all this atmosphere,” said Dominic Thiem, who will be the second seed at this week’s Western and Southern Open as well as at the US Open.

“And now, in an empty stadium, maybe your coach and your team is there, these are the only people, that makes it, I guess, very, very lonely, very, very tough, and that's going to be a very interesting thing to experience.”

Across the board, top players admit that it will be a weird experience.

“I think it's going to be challenging for most players, especially for the top players, which are used to having a big fan base, being surrounding by fans cheering their name, having people that love them when they play,” said Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas. “I think it's going to create a more equal space for any player. I think, yeah, again, it is going to be challenging. I think it benefits a bit the lower-ranked players.”

It remains to be seen if what the players say will hold true, but the fact that they believe the “new normal” will level the playing surface does bode well for upsets and the fortunes of lower-ranked players.


What also helps is the fact that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are not in the mix. The odds of the Big Three—Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic—stretching their run of consecutive Grand Slam titles to 14 is certainly diminished by the absence of two of the big three.

“Yeah, of course there is a, first of all, big opportunity for a new Grand Slam winner, because there is, let's say, only three Grand Slam winners in the draw of US Open, Cilic, Murray, and Novak, if I'm not mistaken, which of course gives bigger chance for everybody else,” said last year’s US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev. “Kind of don't know what to expect, because it's not usual that there are 150 players that didn't play a match in six months, you know. Actually, it's maybe one who got injured or something like this, so it's never easy to come back.

“I'm really curious and going to do my best to win as many matches as possible.”

What's normal has changed to be sure, but in tennis, some things never change: as always, victories will go to the player that is able to manage the pressure of the moment and all the challenges of playing Grand Slam tennis during a global pandemic better.

“But it's the same for everybody,” said Thiem. “The one who will do it the best, who will manage these special circumstances the best, I guess, will be the one who lifts the trophy at the end.”

 

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