'A decision I never wanted to take': Defending champion Rafael Nadal to skip US Open due to COVID-19

Nadal's plan to skip the US Open came shortly after the Madrid Open, scheduled for September, was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The Associated Press August 05, 2020 08:51:12 IST
'A decision I never wanted to take': Defending champion Rafael Nadal to skip US Open due to COVID-19

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will skip the US Open because of the coronavirus pandemic, putting on hold his bid to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record for Grand Slam titles.

Nadal explained his decision in a series of tweets sent in Spanish and English on Tuesday.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal wrote.

The 34-year-old from Spain called sitting out the tournament scheduled to begin 31 August in New York “a decision I never wanted to take,” but added that he would “rather not travel.”

“Rafa is one of the greatest champions in our sport and we support his decision," US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster said.

The current No. 1-ranked woman, Ash Barty, already had announced she would be missing the US Open. The US Tennis Association's entry list announcements Tuesday noted that 2019 women's champion Bianca Andreescu is in the field — at least for now; players can withdraw until the start of play — but made no mention of Nadal.

The professional tennis tours have been on hiatus since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with play resuming for women on Monday in Palermo, Italy. The first men’s event on the main tour is scheduled to be held later this month.

Nadal's plan to skip the US Open came shortly after the Madrid Open, scheduled for September, was cancelled because of the pandemic.


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Tras pensarlo mucho he decidido no participar en el US Open de este año. La situación sanitaria sigue muy complicada en todo el mundo con casos de COVID-19 y rebrotes que parecen fuera de control. Sabemos que el calendario de este año tras 4 meses sin jugar es una barbaridad, si bien entiendo y agradezco los esfuerzos que todas las partes están poniendo para que se jueguen torneos. Acabamos de tener la noticia de que el torneo de Madrid también ha sido anulado. A dia de hoy la situación es complicada para hacer torneos y todo mi respeto a la USTA, organizadores del US Open y a la ATP por los esfuerzos que están haciendo para que se juegue el torneo para los millones de fans que lo verán por TV o en las plataformas digitales. Esta es una decisión que no querría tomar pero en este caso sigo mi corazón para decidir que por ahora prefiero no viajar. 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 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.

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“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play,” Nadal wrote on Twitter. “I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen.”

In last year’s thriller of a men’s final at Flushing Meadows, Nadal edged Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in 4 hours, 50 minutes. That gave Nadal four titles at the US Open and a total of 19 across all the Grand Slam tournaments, just one away from Federer’s career mark.

Federer will be absent from the US Open, too, but because of two operations on his right knee this year.

The last Grand Slam tournament contested without either Federer or Nadal was the 1999 US Open — four years before Nadal made his debut at one of the sport’s four most prestigious events.

The USTA has given repeated indications it intends to go forward with the US Open, despite the spikes in cases around the United States, saying in a news release last week: “New York State continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the COVID-19 virus."

That is currently true — although the area was a major US hot spot early in the pandemic, so much so that a building at the US Open site was used as a temporary hospital.

New York hospitals saw more than 18,000 patients with COVID-19 at a time in mid-April when infections surged and more than 750 patients with the illness died each day in hospitals and nursing homes. Those figures plunged in May, and rates of hospitalizations and new positive COVID-19 cases have been relatively stable since June.

There are still concerns about travel, as Nadal noted.

The USTA is planning a doubleheader of sorts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Western & Southern Open, a hard-court tournament normally played in Cincinnati, was moved to the US Open site this year because of the pandemic and is scheduled to be played 20-28 August .

That is supposed to be followed by the US Open itself. And then, two weeks after the US Open closes on 13 September, the French Open is scheduled to begin in Paris, having been postponed from its usual May start.

“I know our fans will be disappointed to not have Rafa playing this year’s Western & Southern Open and US Open," Allaster said. "However, for the fans and and the sport, we look forward to being inspired by him when he decides he’s ready to play.”

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