AAP Tennis

Nadal to skip US Open amid virus concerns

By AAP Newswire

Rafael Nadal must wait until the rescheduled French Open in October to try to match Roger Federer's all-time record 20 men's grand slam singles crowns after withdrawing from the US Open citing coronavirus concerns.

Nadal's decision not to defend his title in New York means both he and Federer, who is rehabilitating from knee surgery, will be absent from the same slam for the first time in 21 years.

World No.9 Gael Monfils, the 11th-ranked Fabio Fognini, 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, fellow European stars Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Lucas Pouille and Australian drawcard Nick Kyrgios were other notable omissions from the singles entry list released overnight.

Nadal said in June he had reservations about travelling to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic and he joins Australia's women's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in skipping the tournament starting on August 31.

"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US Open," Nadal posted on Twitter.

"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."

The Madrid Open, which was scheduled to take place from September 12-20, was cancelled on Tuesday due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish capital.

World No.1 and three-time US Open champion Novak Djokovic headlines the men's list along with last year's runner-up Daniil Medvedev and other top-10 players including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

But there are likely to be more withdrawals as the world's best players ponder the prospect of having to enter 14 days of quarantine upon returning to Europe from the US.

Such a scenario would leave contenders with just days to adjust to clay ahead of the French Open starting on September 27.

It would seem Nadal has opted to go all out for a 13th title in Paris.

If the King of Clay was to reign once again at Roland Garros, he would equal Federer's 20 career majors.

But the pair's absence from the Flushing Meadows draw now has Djokovic as an odds-on favourite to claim his 18th grand slam title, which would leave the Serb trailing Nadal by one and Federer by two.

USTA officials will create a biosecurity bubble for players and their limited entourages to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Djokovic has already had the virus, having been infected at his controversial charity event in Belgrade last month.

Barty is the only player in the women's top 10 not on the entry list, which includes 23-times grand slam champion Serena Williams, titleholder Bianca Andreescu and 2018 winner Naomi Osaka.

But several stars have indicated they may not play, including world No.2 and reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.