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US Open changes schedule, both finals pushed back a day

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Associated Press
9/8/2011 11:50:05 PM
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NEW YORK -- All of the rain at the U.S. Open forced the tournament to change its schedule, pushing the men's final to Monday for the fourth consecutive year.

This week's events also brought to the fore two simmering issues:

--Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal want the U.S. Open to stop trying to have the men's semifinals and final back-to-back on Saturday on Sunday, the only Grand Slam event that does so.

--Those two stars and other top men think major tournaments are too powerful and players need to gain a stronger voice; Andy Roddick said he'd be in favour of forming a union.

"With the Grand Slams, it's a whole different story. ... We have much less leverage, and I find sometimes they abuse that situation just a tiny bit," 16-time major champion Federer said after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the U.S. Open quarter-finals Thursday night.

"We have not much say in Grand Slam play, and that's without even talking about the revenues and all that stuff," added Federer, who is president of the ATP Player Council. "So there is a whole lot of other issues we need to work through with the Grand Slams and the (International Tennis Federation)."

The head of the ATP, Adam Helfant, met with U.S. Open tournament director Jim Curley on Thursday, and was involved in discussions that led to the altered schedule for the rest of this week. The U.S. Tennis Association announced the changes Thursday afternoon, after rain completely washed out play Tuesday and limited the action to about 15 minutes Wednesday.

The men's final will be delayed 24 hours until 4 p.m. ET on Monday. The women's final will be Sunday at 4 p.m., instead of Saturday night. The men will get Sunday off this year -- and therefore have time between the semifinals and final that they normally don't get.

Nadal called the usual Saturday-Sunday setup "crazy."

The other three Grand Slam tournaments set the men's semifinals on Friday and the final Sunday, building in a day of rest -- and a cushion in case of rain or other delays.

"I don't think TV should dictate just to have the finals on Sunday and the semis on Saturday and not have the true champion hold the trophy up," Federer said. "I just don't think that's the goal here."

He also said it's a mistake for the U.S. Open to spread out first-round matches over the first three days of the tournament.

Preparing for a Monday final is nothing new for USTA officials. After the last three years, they've learned to book hotels through Monday night and to tell workers to be prepared to stay on an extra day.

Vendors must make sure there's enough food for Monday. Security must be lined up for another day. And media from all over the world have to rebook their flights.

Curley said the schedule was changed "in an effort to be fair to the players and our ticketholders."

"This is the result of a collaborative effort with the players, CBS Sports and tournament officials to address the issues that arose from the inclement weather earlier this week," he said.

Rafael Nadal waits out rain delay (Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images for USTA)

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(Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images for USTA)
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