NEW YORK: Defending champion Rafael Nadal slammed tennis schedule and said he will not play the US Open citing concerns over the coronavirus.
“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.
“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 34-year-old Spanish star also took aim at the international tennis schedule, which has been revised following disruptions sparked by COVID-19 shutdowns.
The US Open in New York, scheduled for 31st August till 13th September, will be followed a fortnight later by the French Open at Roland Garros. “We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play…” Nadal said.
Nadal’s long-time rival Roger Federer has already been ruled out of the tournament as he recovers from knee surgery. The US Open will mark the first time since 1999 that neither player has featured in the main draw of a Grand Slam event.
Nadal, who has 19 Grand Slam victories, could have equalled Federer’s tally of 20 Slam wins in New York.