Hurricane plays havoc with sports schedule

August 27, 2011

Top-ranked women's tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, though, made quick work of Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska at the New Haven Open, where officials moved up the start time of the final and worked overnight to remove the two-ton scoreboards from the top of the tennis stadium with hopes of getting in the final on an outdoor court.

A bevy of sporting events were either postponed, had their start times moved up or had their format altered in the days leading up to a storm that was predicted to cut a destructive path up the eastern seaboard, with its effects reaching all the way to Canada. Others tried to defy the expected conditions.

After an initial rain delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes in the first set, New Haven officials said they believed they would have a window of about 1½ hours for tennis. Wozniacki beat Petra Cetkovska 6-4, 6-1 in about 1:20.

"I was like, 'OK it looks like it's going to start raining, let's go indoors so we can go to New York,"' said Wozniacki, talking about the U.S. Open, which starts Monday. "We got a window and were able to finish. It was nice to play outside, in front of the crowd."

As Irene's first showers arrived in New York, the site of the U.S. Open was quiet and nearly empty, a stark contrast to the customary hustle and bustle two days before the Grand Slam tennis tournament's start.

Normally, thousands of fans attend the celebrity-and-music-filled Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, but that event was canceled Friday. And while dozens of players usually would be scattered around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, a light rain pushed them off the courts before noon.

"Sure, it's somewhat scary, you know, because we don't know how hard it's going to hit us. I've got family. We're in New York City; it's not just a regular city. It's quite something with all the buildings," 16-time major champion Roger Federer said. "So it's unusual, but we'll follow the news closely."

In Philadelphia, the Phillies and Marlins hoped to outplay the weather. Their game scheduled for Sunday was switched to Saturday afternoon but the game was postponed before the first pitch because of rain. The regularly scheduled night game Saturday was already called off the night before. Both games will be made up in a split-doubleheader on Sept. 15.

What it all means for Philadelphia: a grueling stretch of 33 games in 31 days.

"We're not the only people dealing with it, so you just have to move on and deal with it the best way you can," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

At Boston, the Red Sox and Oakland Athletics endured two long rain delays in the first game of a split-doubleheader, won by Boston 9-3.

Fans with tickets for the second game -moved up from Sunday - set to start at 5:05 p.m. EDT were allowed through the turnstiles to watch the final innings of the opener, which started at 12:05 p.m. and was delayed a combined 3 hours.

At The Barclays in Edison, N.J., Dustin Johnson beat the rain and everyone else Saturday to win the PGA Tour's opening FedEx Cup playoff event.

The Barclays was reduced to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene, and there was as much drama in the sky as on the course. Matt Kuchar started the third and final round with a one-shot lead. If the round could not be completed, the tournament would have reverted to 36 holes and Kuchar would have been declared the winner.

The rain came down hard right after Johnson holed a bunker shot for eagle on the fourth hole. But it held off just long enough for Johnson to collect his first win of the year and fifth of his career.

"We got lucky," Johnson said. "The weather held up for us long enough."

In Mirabel, Quebec, the Canadian Women's Open will start early Sunday as organizers try to get the final round completed before remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the area in the afternoon.

The start of play has been moved up by 90 minutes to 7 a.m. EDT. Groups will start from both the first and 10th holes. And players will play in threesomes instead of twosomes.

If the final round isn't completed, 54-hole leaders Michelle Wie, Ai Miyazato and Tiffany Joh will go to a three-way playoff. "I'm kind of expecting the worst," Wie said.

In a rare switch, the Yankees' doubleheader in Baltimore scheduled for Sunday afternoon, when the storm is projected to be pounding New York City, will be broadcast by WFAN-AM instead of rights-holder WCBS-AM, a news station. CBS will be dedicating its airtime to coverage of the hurricane.

The New York Racing Association canceled racing Sunday at Saratoga Race Course. The track, north of Albany, is expected to bring more than seven inches of rain to the area. Racing is expected to resume Monday.

Racing officials said the Personal Ensign scheduled for Sunday will be run on Sept. 3 as part of a card that includes the Woodward and the Forego.

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