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Halep pulls out of the US Open

hannahwilks in US Open 17 Aug 2020
Simona Halep has pulled out of the 2020 US Open (Credit Image: © Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire)

Simona Halep has pulled out of the US Open, becoming the sixth WTA Tour top-10 player to do so.

World no. 2 Simona Halep announced her decision not to play the 2020 US Open.

Six of the world’s top ten female players, including defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, have now pulled out of the upcoming Grand Slam.

The US Open will be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August-13 September, with players subject to health and safety protocols. The USA remains the nation hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 5 million confirmed cases and over 170,000 deaths. The state of New York alone has had over 32,000 deaths.

Halep wrote:

‘After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the [US Open]

‘I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe. I know the USTA and WTA have worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament.’

The reigning Wimbledon champion, Halep was unable to defend her title at the All-England Club when the tournament was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War. The Romanian has long sounded doubtful about the possibility of playing the US Open, and she has a record of being cautious when it comes to health issues: Halep pulled out of the Rio Olympics in 2016 due to concerns over the Zika virus, and just two weeks ago she withdrew from the Palermo Ladies Open citing a rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and her ‘anxieties’ about international air travel.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming

Halep played her first tournament since tennis was shut down in early March at the Prague Open last week instead, and won the 21st title of her career there, defeating Elise Mertens in the final.

The Romanian is now 15-2 in 2020, and would be expected to return to action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where she is a two-time finalist. The tournament begins on 14 September and will be followed by the French Open from 27 September.

Halep’s best result at the US Open came in 2015 when she reached the semifinals. She has won only one match on her last three appearances.

 

Halep joins world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, defending champion Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic in pulling out of the US Open. Svitolina, Bertens and Bencic are all expected to play the European clay-court season, while Barty and Andreescu have yet to confirm.

Karolina Pliskova, who is the only top-10 WTA player based outside the USA to be travelling to New York, will be the top seed. She is joined by world no. 9 Serena Williams, the six-time US Open champion; 2018 winner Naomi Osaka; and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, all based in the USA. Three-time champion Kim Clijsters has taken a wildcard.

Williams played her first tournament since March at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky last week, losing in the quarterfinals to Shelby Rogers.

The projected top eight seeds for the US Open currently look like this (WTA ranking in brackets):

1. Karolina Pliskova (3)
2. Sofia Kenin (4)
3. Serena Williams (9)
4. Naomi Osaka (10)
5. Aryna Sabalenka (11)
6. Petra Kvitova (12)
7. Madison Keys (13)
8. Petra Martic (14)

On the men’s side, defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out, as has former winner Stan Wawrinka. Currently, seven of the top 10 are expected to play with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic leading the field. Andy Murray has taken a wildcard.