The Decision: Nadal Says No To 2020 US Open

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal says he won’t defend his men’s singles title at this year’s Grand Slam event, preferring not to travel to New York during the coronavirus pandemic.

At 8:19 p.m. CEST Tuesday evening, a day after the entry deadline, the World No. 2 made it official when he wrote on Twitter:

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.

“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.

“All my respects to the USTA, the US Open organisers and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and the fans around the world through TV.

“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.

The 34-year-old Nadal is a four-time US Open single champion. He won last year’s title, his 19th Grand Slam singles crown, after beating Daniil Medvedev in a lengthy five-set final.

With no Nadal and already with no Roger Federer, who is recovering from knee surgery, it marks the first time since 1999 that neither will compete in the US Open. Nadal’s next chance to tie Federer’s men’s career Grand Slam record could come at next month’s French Open, which he’s won a record 12 times.

Halep remains on US Open entry list

While reigning US Open men’s champion Rafael Nadal has decided forgo defending his title, World No. 2 Simona Halep is leaving her options open for playing in the US Open.

According to New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey, he suggests that she could have withdrawn now if she knew for sure she wasn’t going to come to New York. Writing on Twitter Monday: “But the final decision on whether or not she plays will be made much closer to the tournament according to her team.”

Andreescu says she’s defending her US Open title

While Rafael Nadal is a definite no and Simona Halep remains on the bubble, one player who will be in New York is 2019 US Open women’s singles champion Bianca Andreescu.

Passing shots

• According to L’Equipe’s Quentin Moynet, Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, ranked No. 71, has entered both of the upcoming Prague Challengers and will not play in this month’s US Open. Also, Marco Cecchinato (No. 113) and Alexei Popyrin (No. 103), both Top 120 players who are good enough to make the US Open cut, are both entering European Challengers the week before the US Open.

• Sunday’s World TeamTennis broadcast on CBS drew more than half a million TV viewers for its final between the New York Empire and Chicago Smash, won by the Empire.

What they’re saying

In a recent interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, 2020 Australian Open finalist Garbiñe Muguruza, 26, said she’s learned to handle defeat better as she’s grown older. “When you are young, you are more sensitive to defeat, you suffer much more. There is no secret to doing it, but it is true that during the years you begin to handle defeats much better. The years have helped me. This does not mean that losing doesn’t affect me, I just needed more days to recover.”

Remembering Bob Ryland

Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe, the only Black man to win the US Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open, once said in an interview, “My only dream in tennis was to become good enough to beat Bob Ryland.”

Born in 1920, Bob Ryland was the first Black professional tennis player in the United States. Just a few weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday, Ryland passed away Sunday, according to the Riverside (N.Y.) Clay Tennis Association.

Ryland was a longtime resident of New York City’s Upper West Side where he was still coaching tennis to kids in Riverside Park, Central Park and Harlem’s Frederick Johnson Playground among many city courts.

“RIP Bob Ryland, a towering historical figure and a true gentleman,” wrote Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim Monday on Twitter.

What they’re sharing on social media

Sorana Cirstea / Proud of WTA and Palermo Open …

Cameron Norrie / Big thanks to Jamie Murray …

Billie Jean King / Pete Sampras is a rare champion …