The controversial US Open grand slam has been plunged further into turmoil, with a former runner-up testing positive for COVID-19 and a women's star deciding to drop out of the New York major.
Japan's Kei Nishikori, the 2014 finalist, confirmed he’s contracted COVID-19 and has withdrawn from an ATP event in New York, with this year's US Open only two weeks away.
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World No.31 Nishikori said he took the test and received the positive result on Sunday in Florida.
Despite reporting few symptoms, Nishikori is now in isolation, with his team planning more tests and a status update on Friday.
"I have some unfortunate news," Nishikori said in a statement posted on social media.
"This morning, while still in Florida, I got tested for COVID-19 and tested positive."
Nishikori had planned to fly to New York on Monday ahead of this week's Western and Southern Open, an event usually played in Cincinnati but moved to New York in a quarantine setting to serve as a final tuneup for the US Open, which starts August 31 in the same bubble atmosphere.
"I will have to pull out of the Cincinnati tournament at this time," Nishikori said.
"I am feeling well and have very little symptoms but will obviously be in complete isolation for the safety of everyone."
Swiss star joins growing list of withdrawals
While Nishikori has not yet been ruled out of the US Open, women's World No.8 Belinda Bencic has become the latest high-profile player to drop out of the tournament.
The Swiss, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open last year, is the latest top-10 player on the women's side to skip the major, joining Australian Ash Barty (one), Canadian Bianca Andreescu (six) Ukraine's Elina Svitolina (five) and Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens (seven).
Her decision means three of last year's semi-finalists have withdrawn, with Serena Williams the only one of the four set to take part at Flushing Meadows.
The men’s draw has also been savaged with defending champion Rafael Nadal and Aussie star Nick Kyrgios among the top players to opt out of the major.
Bencic announced her decision on Twitter where she also said she would skip the Western & Southern Open which is also being held in New York this year, instead of Cincinnati.
"I have made the difficult decision to skip the U.S. swing in New York and will return to the tour starting in Rome next month," she said.
"I am looking forward to returning to New York next year and wish everyone competing there in the coming weeks the best of luck."
The potential loss of Nishikori from the first Grand Slam event since the global COVID-19 pandemic shut down the tour season is another blow for the US Open, which will already be without defending champion Nadal, injured star Roger Federer, reigning women's champion Andreescu and women’s World No.1 Barty.
Among those who are planning to compete in the Flushing Meadows fortnight are top-ranked Novak Djokovic, Britain's Andy Murray and 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams.
The United States Tennis Association has decided to go ahead with the Grand Slam without spectators while players will be asked to follow strict measures, including regular testing, in a bid to avoid spread of the virus.