In 2019, there were three retirements in the opening round; in 2018, there were nine.
This year’s numbers might indicate that players had fewer physical issues upon arrival: logical considering the U.S. Open usually comes near the end of a long, grueling, jet-lagged season.
As for recovering from a five-setter, six of the men who won one in the first round were able to win their second-round matches, as well.
“If you have been fortunate enough to have the normal workout tools at your disposal, there’s no reason this should be a heavier lift than normal,” Courier said, pointing to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year that starts in mid-January, typically two weeks after the season starts.
“Players come off an off-season, they go to Australia, they play a warm-up tournament and they go best-of-five in very extreme heat typically,” Courier said. “So it’s not a different ask than that.”
But Australia does come after an off-season of less than two months.
“It’s definitely different; The length of the break this time was almost three times what you would usually get,” said Dani Vallverdu, Andy Murray’s former coach who is now working with Karolina Pliskova.
In a typical year, Vallverdu said, a player goes into the off-season having played 60 to 70 matches and does not lose much match fitness before the new season begins.
Now, he said, “guys didn’t get more than seven or eight matches since last November.”
“The big question mark for me is how players will be able to handle back-to-back five-setters or a few of them,” he added.