WASHINGTON, August 8, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
With the start of the US Open just more than three weeks away, day by day, the big name withdrawals are beginning to pile up. First, World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia confirmed last week she would skip coming to play in the United States, saying “My team and I have decided that we won’t be traveling to the U.S. for the Western & 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 me team and I in that position.”
Then, earlier this week, it was World No. 1 Rafael Nadal who, like Barty, made his intentions known that he was uncomfortable with traveling internationally to the United States.
On Friday, in short order, World No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and No. 7 Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands added their names to the growing list of major players taking a pass on playing in a major.
— Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) August 7, 2020
“Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020,” Svitolina wrote on her social media platforms on Friday.
“I want to thank the USTA, organizers and 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 US without putting my team and myself at high risk.”
During the WTA tour lockdown, Svitolina played seven exhibition matches, first on clay in Switzerland, then on grass and a hardcourt in Germany. In mid-July, she won the first leg of the Bett1 Aces in Berlin, defeating Petra Kvitova in the final.
Meanwhile, Bertens said she’s been told that athletes returning from the U.S. to the Netherlands would have to quarantine for 14 days, which would greatly affect her ability to prepare for and play in clay court events in Rome and at the French Open in Paris.
“I hope the situation will soon take a positive turn and wish everyone good health,” Bertens wrote on Instagram.
World No.5 and 2019 semifinalist Elina Svitolina and World No.7 Kiki Bertens opt out of the US Open. pic.twitter.com/uDff5XSJtp
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 7, 2020
In addition to Barty, Svitolina and Bertens – who represent three of the Top 10 women’s players in the world – it’s still not a certainty that Simona Halep will play the US Open. The World No. 2 from Romania withdrew from the 31st Palermo Ladies Open on the eve of the WTA’s relaunch in southern Italy this week. While she’s entered in next week’s Prague Open, she’s not on the entry list for the Western & Southern Open that was relocated from Mason, Ohio, to New York, and begins August 22. The US Open is scheduled to be played from August 31 to September 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, starting three days after the Western & Southern Open concludes.
As The Tennis Podcast wrote on Twitter Friday morning, “More withdrawals will happened and be stomached,” is very apt in describing the fluid situation in pro tennis.
Prague here we come 💪🎾 pic.twitter.com/E2Yvied9rj
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) August 7, 2020
What World TeamTennis got right
Last weekend, World TeamTennis put a wrap on a successful three-week season in which, due to the coronavirus crisis, all nine franchises converged on one site, The Greenbrier luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Teams remained in a quarantine “bubble” on the resort grounds the entire time and were regularly tested for the coronavirus. The number of spectators allowed on site for matches was limited and subject to health and safety protocols. None of the players tested positive for COVID-19. WTT CEO Carlos Silva spoke with Reuters and shared how the league got it right.
— Sudipto Ganguly (@Sudipto_Reuters) August 7, 2020
By the numbers
According to the WTA Insider, among active players Venus Williams has appeared in the most WTA quarterfinals with 170. Her sister, Serena Williams, is a close second with 168. Svetlana Kuznetsova is third with 126.
Most WTA QF Appearances (Active Players):
170: Venus Williams
168: Serena Williams
126: Svetlana Kuznetsova
107: Kim Clijsters
103: Vera Zvonareva
92: Angelique Kerber
89: Sam Stosur
87: Victoria Azarenka
87: Petra Kvitova
81: Simona Halep
80: Sara Errani*
*Includes 2020 Palermo
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 6, 2020
What they’re saying
• Christopher Clarey, New York Times tennis correspondent: “If it can be done safely, the US Open organizers have every right to put on the US Open. In light of the global situation and personal and public concerns, players have every right to say no thank you.”
• Mike Cation, American tennis broadcaster and Behind The Racquet Podcast co-host, commenting on Thursday’s announcement of the 2020 US Open wild cards: “Definitely have to say, this is the first time in recent memory where I don’t see people really arguing about someone who got snubbed for a WC. That’s a pretty damned good accomplishment for that list!”
What they’re sharing on social media
World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty / Thank you, Queensland 🇦🇺
Take a look at @ashbarty‘s recent visit to Cairns as Indigenous Tennis Ambassador.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) August 6, 2020