Rafael Nadal: US Open defending champion will not play 2020 competition

Defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal has ruled out playing in this year’s competition over coronavirus fears, putting on hold his bid to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record for Grand Slam titles.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) will set up a strict bio-security ‘bubble’ to minimise the risk of contracting the coronavirus during the Grand Slam, which starts on August 31.

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Nadal’s victory over Daniil Medvedev in last year’s final gave him his fourth US Open title and a total of 19 across all the Grand Slam tournaments, just one away from Federer’s career mark.

But he will not reach that in New York this year after becoming the latest high-profile player to withdraw after Nick Kyrgios and women’s world No 1 Ashleigh Barty pulled out.

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US 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.

After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open. 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. pic.twitter.com/8VA0aSACVy

“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. 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.

“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.”

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