NEW YORK: World number two Rafa Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he will not defend his US Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows as organisers released the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.

Spain’s Nadal had said in June that he had reservations about travelling to the US amid the Covid-19 pandemic and he joins women’s world number one Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament.

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s U.S. Open,” Nadal said 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.

“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank [everyone] for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.

“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.

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

World number one Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion in New York, 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. Swiss Roger Federer, a five-time US Open champion, will also be absent after the 38-year-old was forced to und­e­rgo knee surgery in June that prematurely ended his 2020 season.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020

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