WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
On Thursday morning, World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia announced she will not play in the year’s Western & Southern Open and the US Open due to COVID-19 fears.
While Barty has agonized with the decision, it was an expected one. She decided to bypass coming to the United States, suggesting she didn’t feel comfortable with the health and safety risks for her and her team during the pandemic.
The provisional entry list for the Western & Southern Open, which normally is played each year in Mason, Ohio, near Cincinnati, but was moved by the U.S. Tennis Association to New York City to help alleviate travel concerns for international competitors, was announced on Wednesday without Barty declaring her entry. With the deadline closing for entering the US Open, Barty made her decision to remain at home in Queensland.
“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,” Barty said in a statement released to Australian media. She has been home practicing in Brisbane.
“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 my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the U.S. next year.”
The 24-year-old Barty rose to No. 1 in the rankings after winning last year’s French Open and three other titles, including the 2019 WTA Finals title in Shenzhen. She opened the 2020 season by going 11-3 in four tournaments. She lifted the trophy in Adelaide, then reached the semifinals of both the Australian Open and a WTA Premier 5 event in Doha, Qatar. She has not played since and did not compete in any exhibition events during the tennis lockdown that began in early March.
According to a report published Thursday by News.com.au, Barty will “continue to monitor the situation before deciding whether she is prepared to travel to Europe to prepare for a defense of her Roland Garros crown.”
Barty said: “I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks.”
As long expected, Ash Barty, the women’s No. 1, will not play in this year’s US Open, saying she didn’t feel comfortable with the risks for her and her team. Big loss for the event. @LeoSchlink with the report from Australia:https://t.co/obul2rW5S1
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 29, 2020