World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty yesterday pulled out of the US Open over “significant risks” from the COVID-19 pandemic in a major blow for the Grand Slam, which is scheduled to start in New York on Aug. 31.
The Australian is the biggest name so far to withdraw from the tournament, with her decision coming as COVID-19 deaths in the US topped 150,000.
“My team and I have decided that we won’t be traveling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” she said in a statement to Australian media.
“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,” she said.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year,” she added.
It was not unexpected from Barty, who last month expressed concerns about the US Open going ahead, and she won plenty of support on Thursday on social media for her “sensible” decision to give it a miss.
The 24-year-old, who last year surged to the top of the rankings and has stayed there since, said she would continue to monitor the situation before deciding whether to travel to Europe to prepare for a defense of her French Open crown.
“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks,” she said, with Roland Garros due to start on Sept. 27.
Barty was one of several leading women players not on the entry list on Wednesday for the ATP and WTA Western and Southern Open, a tune-up event for the US Open from Aug. 20 to 28 in a quarantine environment without spectators at Flushing Meadows.
While Serena Williams was confirmed, others missing included world No. 2 Simona Halep, the current Wimbledon champion, plus fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina and last year’s US Open champion, sixth-ranked Bianca Andreescu.
Whether they play the US Open remains to be seen.
However, Japan’s Naomi Osaka is to play in the US Open, the 2018 champion’s management team said, despite reports that said she had not registered and had decided to skip the tournament.
In contrast, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, and second-ranked Rafael Nadal, the current US Open champion, were among the men’s entries, signaling their likely intent to play in the Grand Slam.
Also on the list was Australian Nick Kyrgios, who last month blasted the ATP as “selfish” for pressing ahead with plans for the US Open.
The opinionated Kyrgios has since waged a running battle on social media with some of the top names in the game who played at Djokovic’s ill-fated Adria Tour tennis exhibition last month, blasting their “stupidity” and risky behavior.
Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive for COVID-19.
The tennis season has been at a standstill since mid-March due to the pandemic, with Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War II.
Calendars have been reshuffled with the WTA Tour scheduled to restart on Monday next week in Palermo, Italy.
The men are set to get back under way at the Western and Southern Open, one of the few times since the tournament began in 1899 that it has not been held in the Cincinnati area.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Taiwan national team manager Henry Vom on Sunday had a successful debut in charge of Taichung Futuro, winning 3-2 against league leaders Taipower with a goal deep in stoppage-time, which combined with the results from the other matches saw the gaps close at the top of the Taiwan Football Premier League table. Besides the big win for Futuro, Hang Yuan edged Taitung 1-0, Taiwan Steel dominated National Taiwan University of Sport 4-1 and the Red Lions held Ming Chuan University to a 1-1 draw. Vom took over Futuro after previous coach Toshiaki Imai returned home to Japan. Imai, who also managed the national
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational