American Michael Joyce, the coach of WTA tennis player Timea Babos, has said that this year's US Open will feel very different from any other year because of the empty stadiums and the bubble that players need to remain inside.
Joyce is a former professional player himself before he became a coach and is best known for his work with former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova. The Russian won three Grand Slam singles titles and reached the World No. 1 ranking with Joyce as part of her team.
Speaking to Stats Perform News, the 47 year old Joyce says, "It’s hard to imagine being at the Open without fans and so many people around. That is going to be strange, but so far the people I have been in touch with in the bubble say it’s okay."
The American says that being confined to the bubble was one of the reasons that Babos did not compete in the Western & Southern Open this week. "You can only stay in the hotel and the courts, which is part of the reason Timea is not playing the Western & Southern, we figured if she goes far in the Open it is a long time to be in the bubble."
Michael Joyce says tennis is not as important as what's been going on in the world
Joyce adds that both he and Babos do not have very high expectations for the rest of the season given that the tour is resuming after so many months in such different circumstances.
"I think it’s a good sign tennis is coming back. It’s a start, but I can’t say I’m overly pumped to go to the US Open, because it’s going to feel weird. I would have been happy, and I think Timea is the same, if they had just cancelled everything until January and let’s start up in January and see."
"I really didn’t think the Open would happen up until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t see it going ahead. In a way I’m happy it’s happening, because it’s a start, but at the same time I am not putting a lot of emphasis on this year.
Timea and I are going there to do the best she can, but neither one of us feels like tennis is as important as what’s been going on around the world”. Michael Joyce has been working with Babos since the middle of the 2019 season.
Babos, a former World No. 1 in doubles and a former No. 25 in singles, is currently ranked No. 4 in doubles and No. 101 in singles.