Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Halep to skip U.S. Open due to coronavirus concerns

Simona Halep, who won her 21st career singles title on
Sunday in Prague, tweeted that she prefers "to stay and
train in Europe." File photo by Paul Bauman

Second-ranked Simona Halep, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, said Monday that she will skip the U.S. Open because of coronavirus concerns.

Halep, formerly ranked No. 1, won her 21st career singles title on Sunday in Prague.

"After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the @usopen," tweeted Halep, a 28-year-old Romanian. "I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe."

Halep won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon last year. Her best result in the U.S. Open is a semifinal appearance in 2015. She has not advanced past the second round at Flushing Meadows since reaching the 2016 quarterfinals.

Six of the top eight women have withdrawn from the U.S. Open, Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. Also opting out were No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, No. 6 and reigning champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada, No. 7 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands and No. 8 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. The exceptions are No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and No. 4 Sofia Kenin of the United States.

Also planning to play are No. 9 Serena Williams, seeking her record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, and No. 10 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 champion. Both are former world No. 1s.

Men who have chosen not to compete in the U.S. Open include No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who won his fourth singles title at Flushing Meadows last year; No. 9 Gael Monfils, a 2016 semifinalist; No. 17 Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 champion; and No. 40 Nick Kyrgios

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, a three-time U.S. Open champion, has said he will play. Five-time champ Roger Federer, who has had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee twice this year, is out for the rest of the season.

Kei Nishikori, the runner-up to Marin Cilic in the 2014 U.S. Open, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and said he will pull out of the Western & Southern Open, which begins Saturday at Flushing Meadows. He did not discuss his plans for the U.S. Open.

"I am feeling well and have very little symptoms but will obviously be in complete isolation for the safety of everyone," Nishikori told The Associated Press.

A non-player who has been granted access to the USTA National Tennis Center, the site of the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, also has tested positive. The individual, who is asymptomatic, has been advised to self-isolate for at least 10 days. The USTA did not divulge the person's identity or role.

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