US Open announce major changes

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By SAPA

New York – The U.S. Open is moving the women's final to Sunday and men's final to Monday in 2013, building in a day of rest ahead of each title match for the first time.

The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the Grand Slam event played in New York, announced the changes on Friday – but only for next year.

A decision about 2014 and beyond probably will come after the 2013 tournament, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

Rain forced the USTA to postpone the men's final from its scheduled Sunday slot to Monday in each of the last five years.

Some top male players complained that the U.S. Open was the sport's only major tournament that put their semifinals and final on consecutive days.

Friday's moves end the tradition of what the U.S. Open has called “Super Saturday” since 1984, with both men's semifinals and the women's final all on that day's schedule at Flushing Meadows, followed by the men's final on Sunday.

Wimbledon, the French Open and Australian Open follow another pattern: Women's semifinals on Thursday, men's semifinals on Friday, women's final on Saturday, men's final on Sunday.

As part of the new schedule, the USTA is scrapping its Saturday night session in 2013; the women's final had been played at night since 2001.

Now the women's final will be in the old men's final time slot, at 4pm (10pm SA time) on Sunday afternoon. The men's final will be at 5pm (11pm) on September 9.

The USTA also announced on Friday that total prize money in 2013 will jump $4 million to a record $29.5 million. The increase is the largest in tournament history, doubling the roughly $2 million hike from 2011 to 2012.

The USTA has not decided how the new money will be distributed.

“We listened to the players and understood we needed to accommodate their request for an extra day of rest between the semifinals and final. ... The USTA reached out to many of the top players, player agents as well as the respective tours,” Widmaier said.

“So far, everything has been fairly positive. The day of rest is being embraced across the board,” he added. “Because of the nature of the game, and to assure a final that can be played at the highest competitive level, you need an extra day of rest. We recognized that.”

Widmaier said the tournament still needs to sort out on which days the men's, women's and mixed doubles finals will be played next year. One need to reschedule: The women's doubles final has been on Sunday in the past, but can't be in 2013, with the singles shifting to that day. – Sapa-AP

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