Halep 'highly unlikely' to play restricted U.S. Open

Sudipto Ganguly
Reuters
WTA Premier 5 - Dubai Tennis Championships
WTA Premier 5 - Dubai Tennis Championships

By Sudipto Ganguly

MUMBAI (Reuters) - World number two Simona Halep is "highly unlikely" to play in the U.S. Open with organisers set to put strict health protocols in place for the Grand Slam due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokeswoman for the Romanian told Reuters.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) received the green light to hold their marquee tournament in New York as scheduled from Aug. 31-Sept. 13 without fans.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the USTA would take "extraordinary precautions" to protect players, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated accommodation.

"Everyone is still waiting on an official announcement of details from the U.S. Open and tours about the season," the spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.

"But if the conditions are as set out on paper for U.S. Open, as Simo (Halep) has been consistent in saying, it's highly unlikely she will play."

Her coach Darren Cahill had told Reuters last week the protocols were "incredibly difficult" and would probably not work for the two-times Grand Slam winner.

The USTA and men's and women's tours are expected to provide details later on Wednesday.

"Of course the conditions of the U.S. Open can still change and it is my understanding that the players will have well into July to decide whether to enter or not," the spokeswoman said, adding that it was a "fluid situation so nothing is set in stone".

Men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his women's counterpart Ash Barty have also raised concerns about playing in the tournament under health protocols while Nick Kyrgios said the USTA was being "selfish" by opting to go ahead with it.

American world No.21 John Isner tweeted his support for the decision to go ahead with the tournament.

"Well done @usta for being so forward thinking in getting this done. Players and fans alike are thrilled with this development. Time to get back on the courts!"


(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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