NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Open will revert back to a 14-day tournament from 2015 after United States Tennis Association (USTA) officials reached an agreement with players on restructuring the playing schedule.
The USTA announced in December it was adding an extra day in 2013 and 2014 to the last grand slam of the year to give players a day off between the semi-finals and final, extending the tournament to 15 days with the men’s final being played on a Monday.
But after discussions with players, the USTA announced on Wednesday that the finals would move back to their traditional time slots from 2015, with the men’s championship on Sunday and the women’s title match on Saturday.
“The USTA has a long-term vision in place to ensure that tennis continues to thrive in the United States,” USTA Chairman David Haggerty said.
The men’s semi-finals, which have generally been held the day before the final as part of the U.S. Open’s controversial “Super-Saturday”, would be brought forward by a day to Friday to give the players a rest.
The men’s first round, which had been spread over three days, will be held over two days, bringing the U.S. Open in line with the other grand slams.
The changes will not come into effect until 2015 because the initial changes had already been locked in as part of an agreement with the ATP and WTA.
The five-year deal also included a hefty increase in prize money for the U.S. Open. Officials had already announced this year’s event would increase by $4.1 million to $33.6 million, but said the total purse would be raised to $50 million by 2017.
“These increases are the largest in the history of the sport, representing a significant step forward in truly recognizing the input the players have in the success of the U.S. Open,” ATP president Brad Drewett said.
“We also welcome the decision from the USTA to adopt a schedule with the men’s semi-final’s completed by Friday and the final on Sunday, from 2015 onwards.”
The U.S. Open programme has been hotly debated by players for years after rain delays wreaked havoc on the event.
The tournament has spilled into a third week for each of the past five years because of weather delays, triggering complaints over why the showcase courts are not covered.
Wimbledon and the Australian Open both have retractable roofs over their centre courts and the French Open has announced plans to do the same at Roland Garros but the USTA says it is too expensive to do in New York.
The problem has been compounded by the congested schedule for the finals, which prompted the decision to make changes. (Reporting by Julian Linden in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry)