Without Nadal Or Barty, Who Is Coming To The US Open?

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

While men’s World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and women’s World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty are the highest-profile players to decline playing in the US Open because of their concerns about travel during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth noting for now – “and it’s smart to emphasize the for now” New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey wrote on Twitter – that with the reveal of the tournament entry lists this week, there are still some impressive numbers for US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster to be proud of:

• Twenty-seven of the top 32 men are entered.

• Tweny-nine of the top 32 women are entered.

“Not bad at all,” writes Clarey.

So, with the four-time US Open champion Nadal out, just who is entered? In the men’s event, there’s World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time US Open titlist, and six other top 10 players: No. 3 Dominic Thiem; No. 5 Daniil Medvedev (who reached the 2019 final before losing a five-set thriller to Nadal); No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas; No. 7 Alexander Zverev; No. 8 Matteo Berrettini; and No. 10 David Goffin.

Meanwhile, in the women’s event, there’s thirteen Grand Slam singles champions and nine of the top 10 women. Leading the field is World No. 2 Simona Halep, winner of two Grand Slams; No. 3 Karolina Pliskova; No. 4 Sofia Kenin, winner of the this year’s Australian Open; No. 5 Elina Svitolina; No. 6 Bianca Andreescu, the defending US Open champion; No. 7 Kiki Bertens; No. 8 Belinda Bencic; No. 9 Serena Williams, six-times a US Open champion and winner of 23 Grand Slams; and No. 10 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 US Open and two-time Grand Slam champion. Add to the list, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams and teen sensation Coco Gauff, and there’s plenty to be exciting about.

It should be noted that if Andreescu does indeed play, it would mark her 2020 debut. She has been sidelined since October by injury.

While it should come as little surprise that there are bound to be others besides Nadal and Barty who will opt out of the US Open before the start of the major on August 31 – already there have been a few notables such as 2019 women’s quarterfinalist Wang Qiang from China, ranked 29th, and No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who have announced they won’t be coming to New York – players are closely monitoring health and safety matters in and around New York City and the US Open site in Flushing Meadows as well as the travel situation internationally.

In addition, the USTA has sent out an update to players outlining what their expectations of players, coaches and guests will be as the governing body of the US Open attempts to establish and preserve a health and safety “bubble” throughout the tournament, both on and off site. The USTA has said there will be strong penalties handed down for those who break any health and safety protocols that include removal from the event and fines – and in the case of rules violations by coaches and guests, the revoking of 2021 US Open credentials.

As an aside, one of the fallouts from the five-month hiatus of the professional tours due to the coronavirus pandemic is there have been temporary changes made to the ATP AND WTA ranking system. It should be noted that as a result of this, Nadal will still be allowed to count the points he won from winning the 2019 US Open despite not playing in this year’s tournament.

As Nadal wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening, in both English and Spanish, “All my respects to the USTA, the US Open organizers and the ATP for trying to put the event together for the players and fans around the world through TV.”

Passing shots

• On Wednesday, women’s World No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova posted on her Instagram platform that she’s decided not to play in this year’s US Open. “It wasn’t easy because I hadn’t missed any Grand Slams in my entire career. Tennis is almost everything for me,” she said.

A quick check of the WTA media guide confirms that Pavlyuchenkova has had perfect attendance at the Grand Slams going all the way back to the 2008 French Open. That’s 48 straight majors she’s entered. Pavlyuchenkova has reached the quarterfinals once in each of the Grand Slams. One wonders how many other players – women and men – will opt out of coming to New York in the days ahead?

• On court with style – Camilla Giorgi walks on court Tuesday evening at the Palermo Ladies Open, complete with shoulder bag and face mask. The new normal in tennis?

Happy Birthday, Katrina Adams

What they’re sharing on social media

Belinda Bencic / After match kisses from Snowy