Defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the US Open citing concerns over coronavirus. The four-time winner at Flushing Meadows does not want to travel to the United States for the event, which begins on August 31, while Covid-19 cases are on the rise.
A spike in coronavirus in Nadal’s Spain homeland has already led to the cancellation of the Madrid Open.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open,” he wrote on Instagram. “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.”
Nadal said the revamped schedule was “barbaric” in terms of compressing events into a short space of time but he appreciated tournament organisers across the world were doing their best.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four months stopped with no play, I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen,” he added. “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.”
Madrid’s clay court event was originally due to be played in May but was moved to September after the first wave of Covid-19 hit Europe. However, a rise in cases in Spain has seen the tournament cancelled until next year.
It was due to be played as the premier warm-up event for the rescheduled French Open which is set to be played at the end of September and plans had been put in place for a bio-secure bubble to be created.
A statement from the tournament read: “As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by Covid-19, and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstances that the pandemic continues to generate, together with the competent authorities, it has been decided that 2020 Mutua Madrid Open will not take place this year having previously been moved to September 12-20.
“Following the strong recommendation of the local health authorities, and having monitored the situation for months, the organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open have no choice but to cancel the tournament due to the complex situation that Covid-19 continues to generate in every regard.
“In addition, and after a spike in Covid-19 cases, the community of Madrid announced a few days ago a number of new measures to control the virus’ spread, including a directive that social gatherings are to be reduced to 10 people, both in public and private meetings, further reducing the feasibility of operating the tournament.”
The women’s WTA Tour resumed this week with the Palermo Open, with one unidentified player pulling out on the eve of the tournament after testing positive for coronavirus, while the men’s ATP Tour will start for the first time since March on 22 August. That tournament, the Western & Southern Open, will serve as a warm-up event for the US Open, played on the same site a week later.
“The WTA and ATP regret to confirm the cancellation of the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open, a decision that has been taken in line with local authorities due to health and safety concerns,” said a joint statement. “We would like to recognise the efforts of the tournament organisers who have gone to great lengths in exploring all options to run this year’s tournament, despite the many challenges presented by Covid-19.
“Both tours are assessing updates to the 2020 provisional calendars in regards to events following the US Open and an update will be published in due course.”