Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens became the latest elite-level tennis players to withdraw from the US Open on Friday amid concerns over travelling to and from the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.
Both followed world No. 1 Ash Barty in pulling out of the event, with Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios among the most notable withdrawals on the men’s side. Roger Federer, having undergone a second round of knee surgery, will also miss out.
Men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic remains undecided, while reports in Spain claim the entirety of the ATP top-20 could abandon the hard-court Grand Slam if there is no firm guarantee that there will be no requirement to quarantine for two weeks upon a return to Europe after the event.
It was for that reason that Bertens, the world No. 7 from the Netherlands, opted to pull out.
She posted on Instagram: ‘After long consideration I have decided not to go to the states for Cincinnati and the US Open.
‘The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority.
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Na lang nadenken heb ik besloten niet naar Amerika te gaan voor de toernooien Cincinnati en Us open. De situatie rond COVID-19 is nog dusdanig zorgwekkend dat de gezondheid van iedereen voorop staat en de controle over dit virus uiteraard prioriteit heeft. Zo heeft onze premier gisteren ook aangegeven dat we na Amerika 2 weken in quarantaine zouden moeten. Uiteraard respecteren wij dit als team en zou dit de voorbereiding voor mijn geliefde gravel in Rome en Parijs in de weg zitten. Ik hoop dat de situatie snel een positieve wending zal krijgen en wens iedereen een goede gezondheid toe # after long consideration I have decided not to go to the states for Cincinnati and the Us open. The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority. Our prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the states. Off course we respect this as a team and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay court tournaments in Rome and Paris. I hope the situation will soon take a positive turn and wish everyone good health. Take care!
‘Our prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the States.
‘Of course we respect this as a team and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay court tournaments in Rome and Paris. I hope the situation will soon take a positive turn and wish everyone good health.’
Svitolina, the world No. 5 from Ukraine who was a semi-finalist in 2019, admitted she was simply not ‘comfortable’ putting herself and her team at risk by travelling to New York.
‘Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020,’ she posted on Twitter.
‘I want to thank the USTA [United States Tennis Association], organisers and WTA for giving the players a chance to play and the fans to watch this great event.
‘I understand and respect all the efforts they are putting to make it happen in a safe environment, but I still don’t feel comfortable to travel to US without putting my team and myself at high risk.’
Serena Williams, a losing finalist at her home Slam in each of the last two seasons, has committed to the tournament – and her chances of equalling Margaret Court’s record 24-major haul appear to be improving by the day.
For those pre-emptively preparing to stick an asterisk against a potential Williams win with regards to her claim to be considered the GOAT [greatest of all time], it’s worth remembering that many of Court’s 11 Australian Open wins came during a time when many players did not travel Down Under.
Williams will look to sharpen up her game when she returns to action at the Top Seed Open in Lexington next week. The world No. 9, somewhat fittingly given the tournament’s name, will be the top seed.
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