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Nadal to skip US Open due to COVID-19 concerns

Last updated on: August 05, 2020 23:15 IST
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'This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.'

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal joins women's world number one Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns. Photograph: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

World No 2 Rafael Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he will not defend his US Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows as organisers released the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.

Spain's Nadal had said in June that he had reservations about travelling to the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic and he joins women's world number one Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.

"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US Open," Nadal said on Twitter https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal/status/1290713864506683393 "The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it.

 

"We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank (everyone) for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.

"This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel."

The Madrid Open, which was scheduled to take place from September 12-20, was cancelled on Tuesday due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish capital.

The United States has the highest tally in the world with more than 4.7 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases and nearly 156,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

World number one Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion in New York, headlines the men's list along with last year's runner-up Daniil Medvedev and other top 10 players including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

Swiss Roger Federer, a five-times US Open champion, will also be absent after the 38-year-old was forced to undergo knee surgery in June that prematurely ended his 2020 season.

Nine of the top 10 women's players, including 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.

As many as 13 Grand Slam champions are in the women's draw including Romania's Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, and this year's Australian Open champion American Sofia Kenin.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said eight additional wildcard entries would be selected in both the men's and women's fields.

Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for August 31.

A number of players are also set to take part in the August 20-28 Western & Southern Open in New York, which serves as a warm-up event for the US Open.

Pavlyuchenkova opts out of US Open due to COVID-19 'insecurity'

Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said on Wednesday that she will not travel to New York to take part in the US Open later this month as organisers could not guarantee her health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Open is set to be played from August 31-September 12 even as the country leads the world with over 4.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 157,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Pavlyuchenkova, 29, joins the likes of men's defending champion Rafa Nadal and women's world number one Ash Barty who pulled out of the Grand Slam out of fear of contracting the novel coronavirus during their stay in the country.

"I've been thinking a lot and decided not to play (the) US Open this year," Pavlyuchenkova, ranked 30 in the world, said on Instagram.

"It wasn't easy because I hadn't missed any Grand Slam in my entire career. Tennis is almost everything for me.

"The main reason is insecurity, (the) US Open doesn't provide any guarantees. I don't feel comfortable to travel to USA in such circumstances.

"From this moment, every player is on his own. My team and I have decided it would be for the best not to participate."

Although Barty has pulled out, nine of the women's top 10 were named in the women's field while world number one Novak Djokovic headlines the men's field after organisers released the entry list on Tuesday.

While the men's ATP Tour is yet to resume since it was suspended in March, the women's WTA Tour returned this week with a tournament at Palermo where strict guidelines are in place to curb the spread of the virus.

Players are also scheduled to play at the August 20-28 Western & Southern Open in New York, which serves as a warm-up event for the US Open.

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