CNN  — 

When Wimbledon was canceled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it became the first of tennis’ grand slams to be scrapped since World War II in 1945.

There was uncertainty, too, surrounding the next major, the US Open, but the event is going ahead in New York with no fans, no mixed doubles and limited fields in men’s and women’s doubles. This despite tournament revenue – which hit $399.6 million in 2019 – expected to drop by as much as 80%.

Tennis’ bubble

Be it in the NBA, NHL or Champions League, bubbles are the new norm in sports, accompanied by coronavirus tests and temperature checks.

The US Open is also operating a bubble, with players and their limited entourages being shuttled to and from the tournament’s hotels to the tennis site in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Instead of the usual accommodation in swanky, high-rent Manhattan, all but a few are staying in Long Island at the Long Island Marriott and Garden City hotel.

Players got used to the new setup this week – since a warm-up tournament normally held in Cincinnati, Ohio, is being staged at the US Open site – and so far there have been virtually no complaints.

There will be no fans at the US Open for this year's tournament.

“It’s nice,” 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray told reporters. “They’ve done a really good job at the hotel. They’ve got games and arcades and things like that, which I enjoy.

“They’re putting on different food in the evenings for the players. We can get delivery. Room is absolutely fine. You have a gym there. So, yeah, it’s absolutely fine.”

Private housing was an option given to players but Murray declined because he said costs were “astronomical.”

But Serena Williams – making a ninth attempt at landing a record 24th grand slam title – and Novak Djokovic preferred their own digs.

For Williams, past health scares including pulmonary embolisms swayed her decision.

“I didn’t want to be in the hotel because I have lung issues, so I felt like it was actually a big risk for me personally,” the American told reporters. “At my house, I can control more. There is no housekeeping, there is none of that type of stuff.

“And so as much as I want to be here, it’s great, but I have genuine health issues that I just really needed to put my mind at rest to even be able to perform in New York.”

Djokovic, who tested positive for the coronavirus after his ill fated Adria Tour was cut short, is based at a home described by the New York Times as “nestled amid trees.”

Austria's Dominic Thiem reacts after a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their men's singles final match on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 2, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Dominic Thiem on the Adria Tour, US Open and tennis in the age of coronavirus
03:36 - Source: CNN

“With the trees and serenity, being in this kind of environment is a blessing,” Djokovic told the newspaper. “And I’m grateful, because I’ve seen the hotel where the majority of players are staying.

“I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything like that, and I know the (United States Tennis Association) did their best in order to provide accommodation and organize everything and organize these bubbles so the players can actually compete and come here, but it’s tough for most of the players, not being able to open their window and being in a hotel in a small room.”

Notable no-shows

Players have said they felt safe in the new environment. But due to the pandemic, several stars bypassed the US Open.

The highest-profile absentee is defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal, who could have tied Roger Federer for the all-time men’s grand slam lead.

Practicing on clay rather than hard courts – the surface of the US Open – the Spaniard was always leaning against making the trip and officially withdrew in early August.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” the 19-time grand slam winner said.

Other notable no-shows include Stan Wawrinka, Simona Halep, Ashleigh Barty, Kiki Bertens, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, 2004 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios and defending women’s champion Bianca Andreescu.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates victory with the trophy following the ladies singles final against Marketa Vondrousova of The Czech Republic during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Ashleigh Barty's 2019 French Open win in her own words