Because there is so much interest in a John McEnroe-Boris Becker quarterfinal, CBS has decided to televise it live in prime time Wednesday night -- assuming both players win fourth-round matches.
Normally the network televises highlights at 11:30 each night and does not schedule any tennis for prime time. But because Becker-McEnroe is the most anticipated match here since the 1980 McEnroe-Bjorn Borg final, CBS has decided to televise the match beginning at 9 o'clock.
The USTA has tried all week to insist that Becker-McEnroe won't necessarily be a night match. Now that CBS wants the match live, any doubt has been removed.
When they talk about the U.S. Open, players often complain about the constant movement of spectators and the distractions.
"This isn't really a players tournament," said Chris Evert Lloyd. "It's much more a people's tournament."
Because the USTA gives so many tickets to its endless list of corporate sponsors, the tournament is virtually sold out before it begins. This year, all the day sessions -- when 90 percent of the tennis is played -- were sold out.
What's more, tickets aren't cheap. Most of the lower deck of the stadium is devoted to corporate boxes, thus making them untouchable to the general public. There are 8,000 corporate seats in the 20,000-seat stadium. The top ticket for the finals costs $25. The cheapest daytime ticket, in the upper deck, is $12.
Wimbledon and French Open tickets are considerably cheaper. But the USTA knows it has a hot product and it is taking advantage.
Some people who have been around tennis for a long time think that is a big mistake. One of them is NBC tennis analyst Bud Collins, who has covered the tournament for the last 23 years for the Boston Globe.
"I remember when Bobby Orr played for the (Boston) Bruins and you couldn't get near the Boston Garden," Collins said. "They made no effort to get the kids in to nurture what they had. Orr left, the team went down, and now they have nothing but empty seats.
"I think the USTA could be falling into the same trap. Everything is terrific now, everyone wants tickets. But in a few years, if there are no Americans in the top five, will the demand for tickets be that strong? Maybe. But maybe not.
"They need to get the kids in, they need to have $5 tickets for people. They need to get the real fanatic into the stadium because these are the people who are always going to come."
The USTA, a nonprofit organization, insists it must have the corporate sponsors and the high ticket prices to survive.
John McEnroe remains the most candid player in tennis. Today, when someone asked whether he thought Mats Wilander would be a more consistent, inspired player if he ever became No. 1, McEnroe went into a tirade.
"He (Wilander) is trying to do the back door play, sneak in the back door to No. 1," McEnroe said. "There is more to being No. 1 than just sliding in there -- play the majors and win a couple here and there. It doesn't work that way. You have to go and give 100 percent every time you are on the court. When you are No. 1, wherever you go, people want to see your best.
"I feel it's my duty to say this to a guy like that because I saw him go through periods where I thought he was not giving his best effort. He might go out and beat me now for saying this. But I don't think that's the way things are done.
"I remember playing Lendl six years ago in an exhibition in front of 10,000 people and it was embarrassing because he was not trying. I started yelling at him and saying things. I called him names and got him so angry that I've never seen the guy try so hard in his life. He ended up beating me. Ironically, that was the start of his streak when he beat me seven times in a row. So, believe me, I have nothing to gain by telling Wilander to go try his butt off," McEnroe said.
Boris Becker is not the only West German who wears a watch during matches. Steffi Graf, the 16-year-old who is the No. 11 seed in the women's draw, also wears one.
Asked if she wears the watch because, like Becker, she has a contract with the company that makes the watch, Graf shook her head. "I wear it," she said, "because if I didn't, I would lose it." . . .
In an interview this week with the USA cable network, Evert was talking about watching tapes of her old matches, dating back to her first Open in 1971. "I can't even relate to the person I see on those tapes," she said. "I look and I say to myself, 'Boy, that was a tough cookie out there.' " . . .
Anne White, who wowed Wimbledon with her white bodysuit, has reached the third round here, one of her best tournaments in recent months. Her Wimbledon performance is well-remembered by fans who have gathered in great numbers on the outside court where White has played the past few days.
In fact, this morning, when White -- wearing black running shorts -- went out to hit with Andrea Jaeger, she drew a bigger crowd than several matches going on at other courts. White said before the tournament that she will wear the outfit again if the weather is cool enough to permit it . . .
Comedian Alan King, who runs his own tournament in Las Vegas every year, has more access around the grounds here than almost anyone. He has his own box, is allowed in areas usually restricted to players or CBS personnel and has his own locker in the players' locker room. In fact, King's locker is in the section of the locker room usually reserved for last names like McEnroe, Lendl, Wilander, Connors and Becker . . .
What do tennis players watch on television when there's no tennis to watch? In the men's locker room this morning, a considerable crowd had gathered around the set. What was on? Pro wrestling.