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USTA to move U.S. Open men's final

The U.S. Open men's final has been pushed an extra day, to Monday, the past four years. Soon, according to the United States Tennis Association, it will become a permanent arrangement, possibly as early as this year.

"We're in ongoing discussions regarding the schedule to ensure there's a day of rest for the men and women between the semifinals and finals," Chris Widmaier, the USTA's managing director of corporate communications, said Thursday. "It's not clear if it will happen for 2012, but we expect it will by at least 2013."

The women's final would move to Sunday after the NFL on CBS, eliminating the Saturday night primetime session.

Last year, after two days of rain suspended play, a number of male players voiced concerns when the USTA initially declined to move the men's final from Sunday to Monday. On one memorable afternoon, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick visited the tournament referee's office to protest what they believed to be wet and unsafe conditions, suggesting the USTA was trying to squeeze in matches in order to avoid moving the final.

As Nadal pointed out at the time, the rain would have forced him to play four best-of-five matches in four days if the USTA didn't extend the tournament an extra day.

"I think the players are really serious about change," Murray explained, "whereas in the past, when ideas were rejected, the players just shrugged and accepted they had gone away. It's been tough for everyone here at the U.S. Open, and I don't think anything like this will happen again."

The U.S. Open is susceptible to rain -- and, ultimately, criticism of a too-dense schedule -- because, unlike the Australian Open and Wimbledon, it does not have a roof over its largest court.

While foul weather was the instigator in adding a day the past four years, the new format is more a direct result of the players' protests. As far as Grand Slams go, the U.S. Open has always been a different breed, the only major to play its men's and women's semifinals and finals on back-to-back days. The compressed schedule, although a hardship for players, is a friendly scenario for television ratings.

CBS, which has the rights to broadcast matches on the final Saturday and Sunday, would likely lobby for the status quo.

"We need to reach an agreement with a number of different constituents," Widmaier said. "Our domestic and international television partners, our fan base, as well as certain sponsor commitments we have to work through.

"Our goal is to work through all of this."

American sports fans are conditioned, through decades of Monday Night Football, to watch sports the day after the weekend. NASCAR's recent Daytona 500 was moved from Sunday to Monday and produced terrific television ratings. Last year's men's final between Novak Djokovic and Nadal began at 4 p.m., and avoided a conflict with two Monday Night Football games.

However, the last Sunday men's final, pitting Roger Federer against Djokovic in 2007, posted a 5.36 rating -- more than double any of the four subsequent Monday finals.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.