Ashleigh Barty has added her voice to the growing concerns from high-profile players concerned over the staging of the US Open while there’s still so much uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic.
The women’s No. 1 hasn’t had the chance yet to defend her French Open title because all elite tennis competition is on hold due to COVID-19. She’s already processed the fact there’ll be no Wimbledon in 2020 but is still awaiting clarity on the US Open, which is scheduled to begin on August 31.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, winners of the last eight men’s major titles, have aired reservations about the potential restrictions on players, limits on player entourages and other changes being considered for the US Open. Women’s No. 2 Simona Halep reportedly is also uncertain about playing.
“I have concerns too,” Barty said in an email to The Associated Press. “I understand the tournaments are eager to run but keeping everyone safe has to be the priority.”
A decision from the US Tennis Association’s board about whether to hold the Grand Slam tournament in New York in August could be made as early as this week. The US has accounted for more than 115,000 of the almost 433,000 deaths globally from COVID-19, including more than 30,000 in the state of New York, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Djokovic last week told Serbia’s state broadcaster RTS that most players he’s talked to “were quite negative” about entering the US Open and that for him, “as things stand, most probably the season will continue on clay at the beginning of September.”
The French Open was postponed from a May start to late September because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Under usual circumstances, the US Open is the last of the four majors to be played in the season, when the tours go back to hard courts following the grass and clay-court swings.