US Open rocked by more big-name player withdrawals

AFP
·4-min read
Stan Wawrinka and Elina Svitolina, pictured here in action on the tennis court.
Stan Wawrinka and Elina Svitolina have both withdrawn from the US Open. Image: Getty

Former champion Stan Wawrinka has confirmed he will not play the US Open citing “the health situation in New York” - another huge hit for the grand slam event.

Wawrinka, the US Open winner in 2016, was already missing from the entry list along with four-time champion Rafael Nadal and controversial Aussie star Nick Kyrgios.

Now, the 35-year-old will instead focus on Roland Garros where he won his second career major in 2015.

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“There is the health situation which is particular in New York. I did not want to go the US under these conditions,” the World No.17, also the 2014 Australian Open champion, told RTS in Switzerland.

Players at the US Open, which starts on August 31, will be subject to tight health controls to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It will also be played behind closed doors.

“And the sequence of tournaments which follows after the US Open will be tough,” he added, referring to the Italian Open which starts a week after the conclusion of the New York event.

Roland Garros, delayed from May-June, will then start in Paris on September 27.

“Finally, there are all the uncertainties related to the quarantine issue. There are still many questions and doubts about the holding of the US Open,” he added.

Top women’s players also withdraw

Earlier on Friday, top 10 women's players Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens also announced they will skip the US Open.

Svitolina was a semi-finalist at the 2019 event before losing to Serena Williams.

The two join World No.1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia on the list of women’s players who have decided not to play due to concerns involving the coronavirus pandemic.

Svitolina also cited travel concerns during her announcement on Friday morning on her Twitter account.

“Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020,” Svitolina wrote.

“I want to thank the USTA, organisers and the WTA for giving the players a chance to play and the fans a chance to watch this great event.

“I understand and respect all the efforts they are putting to make it happen in a safe environment, but I still don't feel comfortable to travel to the US without putting my team and myself at high risk.”

Bertens, from Netherlands, also expressed concern over COVID-19 and traveling to the United States.

“After long consideration I have decided not to go to the States for Cincinnati and the U.S. Open,” said Bertens, referencing the Western & Southern Open played in August.

“The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority.

“Our prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the States. Of course we respect this as a team and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay court tournaments in Rome and Paris.”

Kim Clijsters, pictured here at the World Team Tennis finals.
Kim Clijsters has been given a wildcard for the US Open. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Murray and Clijsters get US Open wildcards

Meanwhile, former champions Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters have both been handed wildcards for the US Open.

Former World No.1 Murray, currently ranked 129 after a lengthy period battling a hip injury, narrowly missed direct entry.

The 33-year-old won the first of his three grand slam titles at the 2012 US Open, becoming the first British male to win a major since Fred Perry in 1936.

Clijsters will be looking to repeat her magic from the 2009 US Open, when she famously won the women's singles title as a wildcard after returning from an initial retirement, during which she became a mother.

The three-time US Open champion (2005, 2009-10), who came out of a more than seven-year retirement earlier in 2020, will be playing the US Open for the first time since she stepped away from the game following the 2012 tournament.

with agencies