Defending champion Rafael Nadal said Tuesday he will not play the US Open, citing concerns over the coronavirus and slamming tennis’s “barbaric” revised calendar.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open,” Nadal said on Twitter.
“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.
“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 34-year-old Spanish star also took aim at the international tennis schedule, which has been revised following disruptions sparked by COVID-19 shutdowns.
The US Open in New York, scheduled for August 31 through September 13, will be followed a fortnight later by the French Open at Roland Garros.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play…” Nadal said.
With Nadal’s long-time rival Roger Federer already ruled out of the tournament as he recovers from knee surgery, the US Open will mark the first time since 1999 that neither player has featured in the main draw of a Grand Slam event.
Nadal, who has 19 Grand Slam victories, could have equalled Federer’s tally of 20 Slam wins in New York.
With Nadal and Federer missing from New York, world number one Novak Djokovic will have a golden opportunity to land an 18th Grand Slam singles title.
Djokovic was named on the US Open entry list yesterday which included seven of the world’s top 10 players.
Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion, will be joined by world number three Dominic Thiem, world number 5 Daniil Medvedev and sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The women’s entry list meanwhile includes 13 Grand Slam champions and nine of the world’s top 10 players.
With Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty withdrawing from the tournament last week citing “significant risks” from COVID-19, the
women’s draw will be led by Romania’s world number two Simona Halep of Romania, a two-time Grand Slam champion.
Serena Williams is also in the field, chasing a seventh US Open and 24th Grand Slam time overall.*AFP