Rafael Nadal pulls out of US Open over coronavirus fears

Carl Markham
·2-min read
Rafael Nadal hitting a forehand - Rafael Nadal pulls out of US Open over coronavirus fears - REUTERS
Rafael Nadal hitting a forehand - Rafael Nadal pulls out of US Open over coronavirus fears - REUTERS

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 Aug 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 next month’s 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.

“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 time, but he appreciated tournament ­organisers across the world were doing their best.

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 meant the tournament has been 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 next month and plans had been put in place for a biosecure 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 the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open will not take place this year, having previously been moved to Sept 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 Aug 22.

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.