More than 80 of the world's top 100 male tennis players have either withdrawn or will not enter the U.S. Open because of a pro council ruling that Grand Prix supervisors will not be used at Grand Slam events.
According to Ron Bookman, director of communications for the Association of Tennis Professionals, "right now 81 of the top 100 have either withdrawn or have not entered." The top five, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Guillermo Vilas and Vitas Gerulatis, will play.
Harold Solomon, ranked sixth in the world, and president of the ATP, Peter Fleming (8th), Ivan Lendi (9th), Eddie Dibbs (10th) and Roscoe Tanner (11th) are among those who have withdrawn.
Deadline for entering the tournament, scheduled Aug. 26-Sept. 7 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. is Tuesday. But, Mike Burns, the tournament manager said," We are considering extending the deadline for a two-week period to allow the players to change their minds or to hope that something gets worked out."
If no compromise is reached before Tuesday, Burns said, "there is a 99.9 percent chance we'll ask (the Men's International Professional Tennis Council) for an extension."
The controversy flared last month during the French Open when the tournament director, Philippe Chatrier, (also chairman of the pro council) overruled the supervisor's decision to default Vilas when he failed to appear on time for a match against Maneul Orantes.
The supervisors, who have been employes of the pro council since 1978, are supposed to have final authority to rule on matters not specifically covered in Grand Prix rules and regulations.
The pro council met and fined the French Open $2,800, which was awarded to Orantes, Bookman said.
Then by a vote of 6-3, the pro council reversed an earlier decision, and voted not to allow supervisors at Grand Slam events. The three player representatives dissented.
"The players were upset that the rules were changed in the middle of the season," Bookman said. "They signed an agreement before the 1980 season to play under certain rules, and they felt the council acted unfairly.
"The council brought in the supervisors to control the players. When the council discovered they could also make tournament directors abide by the rules, they changed the rules."
The directors of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open have never accepted the supervisors as the final authorities at their tournaments.
The question is: who runs the show. "It comes down to the that," Burns said. "The problem is they are the ultimate authority in everything. It's not clearly enough defined. If it was better defined what they were going to do and how they were going to do it, the problems would disappear."