How Rafael Nadal pulled out of this year’s US Open amid coronavirus fears
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal shocked the US Open by declaring that he will not defend his title in New York this month.
His announcement came just hours after the clay-court Madrid Open – to which he had committed – announced that it was not going ahead in September due to the rising number of COVID cases in the Spanish capital.
It was easy to conclude from that the likelihood that Nadal would travel to New York, but instead, he swiftly put out a statement saying that he would not go under any circumstances.
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the US Open, citing concerns around the coronavirus pandemic
The Spaniard won the competition last year but said the health situation was ‘still complicated’
He joins women’s world No 1 Ash Barty in declining to play, and it is becoming clear that this is going to be a somewhat depleted field at Flushing Meadows, assuming that the event goes ahead at all.
‘After many thoughts, I have decided not to play,’ said Nadal. ‘The situation is very complicated worldwide, COVID 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 four months stopped with no play. I understand and thank them for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen.
‘All my respects to the USTA (US Tennis Association), the US Open organizers, and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and fans around the world through TV.’
RAFAEL NADAL FULL STATEMENT
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.
We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank you 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 organizers, 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.
Women’s world No 1 Ashleigh Barty also withdrew from the tournament over health concerns
With Roger Federer out injured, two of the three players contesting the race to be the all-time highest Grand Slam winner are sure not to play.
Having expressed reservations, and kept a low profile since his disastrous Adria Tour, the indications are that Novak Djokovic may be coming round to the idea.
He has been seen practicing on hard courts in Spain and is reported to have had the US Open balls shipped to him for his training.
Ranking-wise Nadal had little incentive to play in New York, as under a temporary new system he will be able to continue counting his haul of 2,000 points from winning the title last year.
He will surely turn his attentions to the French Open, which is now due to happen in late September, although so much can change between now and then with events far beyond the control of the tennis world.
The event confirmed Novak Djokovic would lead the top stars competing at the end of August
The indications are that the US Open wants to plow on with no fans, despite the multiple logistical challenges it faces.
Aside from Nadal and Barty other prominent no-shows on the men’s side are expected to include Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini, Stan Wawrinka, and Jo Wilfried Tsonga.
There is also a large question mark around Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, although Serena Williams has declared her willingness to compete.
If it survives the Italian Open is now meant to be the warm-up event for Roland Garros, although that will also have to go ahead without fans. These are difficult times indeed for a global sport like tennis.Download TopNaija App free | Join Us On Telegram | Promote Your Music