World No. 3 Dominic Thiem has praised the work the USTA has done to ensure safe playing conditions for the US Open as the Austrian feels "there is no safer place in the world right now." The USTA was keen on staging this year's US Open and two months ago they proposed to stage both the Cincinnati Masters and US Open in New York, in a bubble.
Players, coaches and everyone participating at this year's US Open is required to follow strict health restrictions inside the bubble. The USTA also put a strong security to make sure no one leaves the bubble. But on Sunday, French tennis star Benoit Paire became the first US Open participant to test positive for the coronavirus.
The Frenchman was automatically removed from the US Open main draw and replaced by Marcel Granollers. "I think there's no safer place in the world right now than here. Maybe you can lock yourself somewhere in a cave or something I don't know in the middle of the sea.
Otherwise it's super safe here. We're in a bubble. Still something can happen as you could see with Benoit," Thiem said, per Ravi Ubha.
Thiem says losing at this year's US Open will be especially tough
Thiem, seeded at No.
2, was drawn to meet rising Spanish star Jaume Munar in the US Open first round. The Austrian's career-best result at the US Open came in 2018, when he made the quarterfinal before losing to Rafael Nadal. "Normally if you lose you're always super pissed & disappointed.
Normally you hop on the plane & go to a different place. Easier to forget. Here you're stuck in the same place for a very long time. So it's not easy to forget the loss, to get your mind on different things," Thiem added.
Meanwhile, world No. 26 Alex de Minaur admitted being in the bubble and playing without fans isn't ideal. The rising Australian star is set to open his US Open campaign against Andrej Martin. De Minaur made the round-of-16 at the US Open last year.
"It's tough. It's something you need to get used to. I guess it's the same for all the players so there is really no excuses. It's something that you just have to adapt (to) and it's going to be the new normality, so you'd better get used to it," de Minaur said.