Retractable roof for US tennis open

A $US150 million ($A197.26 million) retractable roof to keep the US Open championship’s Arthur Ashe Stadium main court dry has been unveiled.

However there was a minor glitch during Tuesday’s fanfare at Flushing Meadows.

The technological wonder had a grand closing, as gathered media looked skyward and the translucent fabric covered the world’s largest tennis stadium in 5 minutes and 12 seconds.

Jeanne Ashe, wife of the late champion for whom the stadium is named, did the honours of hitting the button and put the assembled audience in comfortable shade.

Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, for whom the National Tennis Center complex is named, was then summoned to trigger the re-opening – but the roof failed to budge.

On her third try, after a delay of more than 10 minutes, the roof was again in motion and in five minutes was open over the stadium’s 23,771 blue seats.

The delay was a bit embarrassing for officials who had been using the catch-phrase “redefine spectacular” about the high-tech achievement but it was a minor hiccup as the new space age look of the stadium and prospects of relief from rain was a welcomed development.

US Tennis Association Executive Director Gordon Smith put a positive spin on the hiccup.

“It actually worked exactly like it was designed,” he told reporters.

“There are 16 brake clamps that stop it. One sensor on one of those 16 said ‘I’m slightly out of alignment’ and it then sends a signal that says ‘You need to reboot and check me out and make sure I’m OK.’

“That’s what they did. It was fine. It behaved like it was designed to behave.”

Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner said the roof, an engineering challenge that took three years to complete, will continue to be tested daily ahead of the August 29-September 11 championship.

The new covering, which follows years of rain delays and postponements that often extended the year’s final grand slam to an extra day, leaves the French Open as the only slam without a retractable roof, which they hope to put in place by 2020.

Besides keeping the court, players and spectators dry, the shape of the roof seems to have cut down the swirling wind that has often vexed players in the past.

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