Sections of Arthur Ashe Stadium shut down due to rain

Written by Staff Writer

The US Open men’s tennis final was suspended Saturday afternoon after heavy rain rained down on a closed roofed Arthur Ashe Stadium, canceling play just a couple of hours after it started.

“Due to the weather, the 2017 US Open Men’s Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer has been suspended,” the US Tennis Association said in a statement.

A reshuffle of the women’s and men’s semifinals is now underway, with defending champion Angelique Kerber up against former Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second semi-final, while second seed Simona Halep and seven-time major winner Serena Williams square off in the first semi-final.

“Play will resume when possible as conditions permit,” the USTA added.

Rain has been falling for much of the day, and remained heavy for much of the later afternoon despite the USTA lifting the ban on spectators, but organizers were hopeful the clouds would break and the roof would stay in place.

Officials say the rain caused significant rain damage and millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

“I thought it was neat … to see everybody come out,” Lisander Federer, a New York spectator who is also the father of the world number one and a close friend, told CNN Sport when the final ended.

Lisander Federer also joked about being “lucky to have seen only one set” before the suspension.

A spokesperson for the USTA told CNN there were “two downpours which resulted in approximately 3.5 inches of rain. Two sets of lights were also damaged.”

Weather delays on the second weekend of the US Open have been a rare event, but not unprecedented.

In the first round the 2015 edition of the tournament was almost stopped completely due to persistent rain, with the exception of early-morning play on Saturday.

The 2015 men’s final was only completed two days later.

Organizers have been reluctant to install retractable roofs over the Grand Slam stadiums, such as the Olympic Tennis Centre at Wimbledon and the Roland Garros center court at the French Open.

The women’s title was won by a relative unknown — 10th seed Garbine Muguruza — last year in a thrilling final.

Venus Williams proved she still has the goods in 2016, winning the French Open for the third time.

But world number one Djokovic, who has an unbroken 33-match winning streak in the majors and holds the Open era record for number of Grand Slam singles titles, would not be beaten on his beloved Roland Garros turf for the first time since his four-set triumph over Rafa Nadal in 2012.

With Djokovic well in the title chase, the women’s title has long since been Federer’s to lose. He ended the 2015 campaign with a stunning Wimbledon title and now looks set to end a remarkable 22-year wait for his first French Open title.

The 2015 women’s winner, Kerber, will look to get revenge on Azarenka, who defeated her in straight sets the first time they met in Melbourne.

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