Rafael Nadal pulls out of the US Open citing the coronavirus pandemic

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@RafaelNadal
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@RafaelNadal

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of this year’s US Open due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a series of tweets Nadal explained his decision, saying, “The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it.” 

Bidding to equal Roger Federer’s men's record for Grand Slam titles, Nadal said that sitting out the tournament is "a decision I never wanted to take," but added that he would "rather not travel."

The US Open is scheduled to begin on August 31. The pandemic has already forced the cancellation of Wimbledon and the postponement of the French Open. The ATP and WTA professional tennis tours have been on hiatus since March because of the  COVID-19 outbreak, with play resuming for women on Monday in Palermo, Italy. The first men's event on the main tour is scheduled to be held later this month. 

"We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play," Nadal wrote on Twitter. "I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen."

The US Open will be the first Grand Slam since 1999 which will feature neither Nadal or Federer – the latter not playing for the rest of the year after two knee operations.