US Open without fans is better than no grand slam tennis, says Karolina Pliskova

Molly McElwee
Karolina Pliskova - US Open without fans is better than no grand slam tennis, says Karolina Pliskova - GETTY IMAGES
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Karolina Pliskova, the world No 3, has said she would rather the US Open go ahead without fans than not at all, saying playing in near-empty stadiums is not something female players are completely unaccustomed to.

The WTA and ATP tours have been postponed until July 13, however there are efforts being made to salvage grand slam tennis at the US Open beginning in August, with organisers hopeful the tournament will go ahead behind-closed doors in New York.

Some players voiced their discomfort with the idea of playing major tournaments without fans though, including Roger Federer who last week said it would be "difficult" for him. Pliskova said her opinion differed from the 20-time grand slam champion though, pointing out that Federer had likely rarely experienced playing in a near-empty stadium in the way she and some of her female peers have, due to matches being scheduled outside of primetime slots.

"No matter how or what conditions, it's better to play some matches than not play anything," Pliskova told Telegraph Sport. "Everybody has different opinions, and we always play for the people and for the fans.

"If you have the chance to play a night match or some primetime, so there's a lot of people and the atmosphere is great, it's much better. But we can have matches where there is nobody, so I think it's not that it would never happen. If you play at 1am, then there's not many people anyway. Maybe Roger, he never experienced that, but I think me and the girls overall have had experience of nobody [in the stands], or only a couple people. I know for Roger for sure it has to be different thinking than for me, but I would definitely choose to play."

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Unequal scheduling is not a new issue in tennis, with Maria Sharapova calling the Brisbane International a "second-tier event" in January, after the first few rounds of women's singles matches were relegated to outside courts in order to make room for the ATP Cup. That same month the Australian Open was also criticised after women's matches were scheduled in less popular afternoon sessions as, barring the final, there was not one women's singles match played in the night session on Rod Laver Arena in the second week.

Pliskova voiced similar thoughts, as well as supporting the much-talked about idea of a WTA and ATP merger, with the Czech player seeing it as an opportunity to gain equal visibility in terms of broadcast deals. The US Open 2016 finalist returns to competitive action for the first time since February on Wednesday, in the behind-closed-door LiveScore Cup in Prague.

She said being from the Czech Republic put her in a good position if travel restrictions continued for the coming months, because of the wealth of talent in her country for match practice, including twin sister Kristyna and two-time major champion Petra Kvitova: "If you can get stuck in Czech Republic it's not so bad, because you can make a competition. The players are top players, there's Petra [Kvitova], there's Barbora Strycova, there's eight players in [the] top 100, so the level is still good. Some countries have like two [top] players, we have eight. To have some matches is great, no matter against who, but especially against these girls where I know they are a good level."

  • Karolina Pliskova was speaking ahead of the ‘LiveScore Cup’, which runs from June 3-6. Fans can follow the on-court scores and stats in real-time on LiveScore’s iOS and Android app or at LiveScore.com