Dubai: The US Open tennis, scheduled to kick off on August 31, received a major blow as women’s world No.1 Ash Barty decided to skip the grand slam and the tournament preceding it in New York due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the U.S. for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” the Australian said in a statement.
“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the U.S. next year.” The Western and Southern Open, which is held annually in Cincinnati, has been moved to New York this year and is set to start in mid-August.
The US Open will be held in its usual home in Flushing Meadows, Queens, but will be played without fans in attendance to limit the spread of the virus.
The reigning French Open champion will decide later whether to defend her title at Roland Garros starting in late September.
“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks,” she said.
World number one Novak Djokovic and 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams are among players expected to compete at the event despite concerns about undergoing mandatory quarantine when travelling to Europe, which would have them miss tournaments in Madrid and Rome ahead of the French Open.
Naomi Osaka, the 2018 champion, has also confirmed for the event. Several media reports had said she had not registered for the tournament and had decided to skip the event, but the 22-year-old’s management team confirmed via email that the reports were wide of the mark and that she would be participating at Flushing Meadows.
Japan’s Osaka, who is based in the United States, last played competitive tennis in early February during Fed Cup qualifiers against Spain.