Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has decided to skip the U.S. Open. Nadal broke the news via Twitter, where he outlined his concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s U.S. Open,” he tweeted. “The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.”
In a thread, the world’s No. 2 player and defending U.S. Open champ called the truncated tennis season “barbaric,” but thanked the USTA and U.S. Open organizers for, at least, trying to put the event on.
Rafa, who has won U.S. Open titles among his 19 career Grand Slams, “never wanted to” miss the major championship. But he says he would rather prioritize his health than to travel to the country with the most COVID cases.
The popular Spaniard’s decision comes days after Nick Kyrgios said he would be skipping the U.S. Open.
Without naming names, Kyrgios called out the “selfish” behavior of Alex Zverev, who was caught partying after contracting the virus on tour, and Novak Djokavic, who hosted his own tournament where a few players tested positive, including the men’s world number one.
Unlike Djokavic, the women’s world No. 1, Ash Barty, decided to opt out of playing at Flushing Meadows.
Both Barty and Nadal have yet to decide if they will participate in September’s rescheduled French Open.
The U.S. Open is still slated to start at the end of the month, making it one of the first major international sporting tournaments to return to the U.S.
The tournament will be held in a bubble, of sorts, at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens.
In April, the tennis center was used as a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients. In a few weeks, tennis will likely return to Flushing without fans and, now, without some of the sports’ top stars.