Open and shut

Sports | AGENCIES 31 Jul 2020

World No 1 Ashleigh Barty pulled out of the US Open yesterday over "significant risks" from the coronavirus pandemic in a major blow for the Grand Slam tennis event, which is scheduled to start in New York on August 31.

The Australian is the biggest name so far to withdraw from the tournament, with her decision coming as the United States marked a grim milestone when its Covid-19 deaths topped 150,000.

Barty, 24, will also sit out the Western and Southern Open, a tune-up event for the US Open in a quarantine environment without spectators at Flushing Meadows.

Japan's Naomi Osaka is another big name who is not on the entry list for the Western and Southern Open, but her management team said the 22-year-old will compete in the tournament and at the US Open, which she won in 2018.

Barty said: "My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year.

"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."

Her decision came despite the New York area keeping coronavirus cases at a relatively low level since spiking in March and April while areas such as Florida, Texas and California have become hotspots. There have been more than 4.4 million detected infections in America so far.

Last month Barty expressed concerns about the US Open going ahead, and she won plenty of support yesterday on social media for her "sensible" decision to give it a miss. She will continue to monitor the situation before deciding whether to travel to Europe to prepare for the defense of her French Open crown in late September.

Meanwhile, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are on course to play at the US Open.

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