CHENNAI: The extraordinary challenge of trying to organise a Major -- one of the biggest sporting events in the world to try and go into a bio bubble yet amid the coronavirus pandemic -- was laid bare by Sumit Nagal. The World No 127, who made it through the main draw entry list, said the tournament could yet get cancelled.
"It's not easy to host a Slam," he told this daily. 'It takes a lot of effort. I am very happy with their effort... I will be going with one of my coaches so we will be discussing (the logistics) in a bit. I still don't know how I am going to fly, I will probably be flying out to New York (from Europe) in three weeks. Maybe the tournament (US Open) gets cancelled, you never know. There is definitely some time to figure things out."
The challenge for the players begins even before setting foot in the US. Some carriers aren't even flying there because of the coronavirus situation. Even if Nagal manages to find a flight that will take him to the US, there is the even bigger challenge of getting back to Europe after the US Open.
Some countries aren't accepting passengers from the US, even if they are there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine period that they will have to serve. The US Open is working on arrangements to ensure players skip the quarantine period but they haven't yet reached that arrangement.
"The USTA (United States Tennis Association), together with ATP, WTA, FFT (French Tennis Federation), Rome (Italian Open) and additional tour events on the calendar are making positive progress with confirming the players' ability to travel to Europe from the US. Ongoing arrangements are being made to deliver onward travel based on ATP & WTA calendars," says a USTA travel advisory with respect to getting back to Europe.
The 22-year-old, who made the tennis world take notice of his name after taking the first set off Roger Federer at the US Open last year, for his part isn't thinking of all those challenges at the moment. He is just looking forward to playing in a competitive environment after a long time out.
"I haven't played many tournaments since the US Open last year so it's not easy to say what the major improvements in my game are. Matchplay is very different to training sessions. I am very excited to be playing a tournament in Prague (ATP Challenger) in two weeks' time to see how my improvement has been."
The Prague Open is going to be on clay, not the ideal preparation before heading to a hardcourt Major but the Jhajjar-lad doesn't mind. "It's always good to play matches before heading to a Slam," he says. "I know this is going to be on clay but it's good to play matches on any surface rather than play no matches."
The WTA has resumed with the Palermo Open but the ATP Tour begins with the Western and Southern Open on August 20. The US Open is scheduled to begin on August 29 before the French Open from September 28.