“The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there,” Andreescu, the 20-year-old Canadian who is sixth in the WTA rankings, wrote on Instagram. “However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”
Andreescu, who defeated Serena Williams in September to claim her first major title, added that she made the decision to “focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level.”
The 34-year-old Nadal, whose U.S. Open win last year brought him within one of Roger Federer’s record for men of 20 Grand Slam titles, said earlier this month, “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."
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Dear fans, After many discussions with those closest to me, I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year. I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level. The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level. I want to express my appreciation to the USTA and the WTA for all of their efforts in making the event happen. I look forward to joining my competitors back on court soon. B
While Federer, 39, was already out for the rest of the year after opting for knee surgery in June, Novak Djokovic announced Thursday he will be in New York this year to play in both the U.S. Open and a preceding event, the Western & Southern Open. That tournament has been played in the Cincinnati area since 1921, but it was moved to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year to reduce players’ travel requirements amid the pandemic. The Western & Southern Open will be held Aug. 22-28, and the U.S. Open starts on Aug. 31.
“It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides,” Djokovic, the men’s No. 1-ranked player who won the Australian Open in January for his 17th Grand Slam title, tweeted, “but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.”
Djokovic, 33, announced in June he tested positive for the coronavirus. He received criticism at the time for having hosted a mini-tour in the Balkan region that was staged without many safety protocols, after which several other players also tested positive, as did his wife and fitness coach.
In declaring earlier this month that he would skip the U.S. Open, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios appeared to take a shot at Djokovic and some of his cohorts on the mini-tour while asking for tennis players to “act in the interest of each other and work together.”
“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe, or trying to make a quick buck hosting an exhibition,” he continued. “That’s just so selfish.”
The U.S. Open will be the first major played this year since the Australian Open after Wimbledon was canceled and the French Open was moved to September. The ATP and WTA tours, which began suspending or canceling events in March, are returning to play this month, but other notable players have also bowed out of the U.S. Open.
That group includes women’s No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, a 24-year-old Australian who said last month that there were “still significant risks involved due to Covid-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.”
Stan Wawrinka, a three-time major champ who won the U.S. Open in 2016, said recently that he “did not want to go to the United States under these conditions.”
The 38-year-old Williams, who needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24, confirmed in June that she plans to play in the U.S. Open. American Sofia Kenin, a 21-year-old who won the Australian Open earlier this year for her first major, is also expected to compete in New York.
“I want to express my appreciation to the USTA and the WTA for all of their efforts in making the event happen,” Andreescu said Thursday. “I look forward to joining my competitors back on court soon.”