The list of big names in men’s tennis who will compete at the US Open this year is growing thin. The latest exclusion is world no 2 and defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Citing his concern over health and safety due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in the United States, the four-time champion at Flushing Meadows took to Twitter late on Tuesday night to announce his decision.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” read his statement.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.
“All my respects to the USTA, the US Open organisers and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and the fans around the world through TV.
“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.”
After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) August 4, 2020
The 19-time Grand Slam champion has been vocal about his concerns over the safety of the US Open being played during the pandemic.
Though he has withdrawn from the American Grand Slam, he is expected to make the shorter trip to Paris to defend his French Open crown, starting September 27.
Nadal’s withdrawal from the US Open makes him the highest ranked player in the men’s field to be skipping the event.
The list of absentees also includes world no 4 Roger Federer, world no 9 Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini (11), 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, former no 13 Nick Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (former 5) and former no 10 Lucas Pouille.
The highest ranked tennis player who won’t be competing though is women’s singles world no 1 Ashleigh Barty.
Former world no 3, Grigor Dimitrov, who had earlier tested positive for the Coronavirus, is still “uncertain,” as reported by Sky Sports, about his participation.
Meanwhile, world no 1 Novak Djokovic will lead the field. And with the omissions, the 17-time Grand Slam winner will be expected to bag his fourth US Open title.