World No.2 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will not defend his US Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows as organisers released the singles entry list for the grand slam.
Spain's Nadal had said in June that he had reservations about travelling to the Us amid the COVID-19 pandemic and he joins women's world No.1 Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.
"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's U.S. Open," Nadal said on Twitter.
"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 (everyone) for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.
"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."
Nadal's decision means it will be the first time in 21 years that neither he nor the injured Roger Federer have been involved in a grand slam tournament.
Fans took to social media in droves to react to the Spaniard's bombshell call.
Last Grand Slam without Federer & Nadal?— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 4, 2020
US Open 1999.
Nadal has now pulled out of the US Open. Why in the world are they so adamant to get this tournament to go ahead? No player wants to play!— Trevor #RaiseYourDare 🤔 (@Trevorlloyd92) August 4, 2020
🎾 Defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the US Open, citing concerns over the pandemic.— MansionBet (@MansionBet) August 4, 2020
The four-time winner at Flushing Meadows does not wish to travel to the United States. pic.twitter.com/g5i3WM7LyY
The US Open will be without defending champion, Rafael Nadal.— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) August 4, 2020
Can't say I'm surprised. https://t.co/UyZo34wsZJ
The 2020 US Open will be the first Grand Slam since 1999 without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) August 4, 2020
I shivered a little typing that.
I'm really not surprised that Rafael Nadal pulled out of the US Open— Sarafina Napoleon (@FinaNapoleon) August 4, 2020
Nobody is surprise. The scheduling of US Open before Roland Garros says it all. We all expected it, only Djokovic not playing will be a shock.— Sui Generis (@adewilliams9) August 4, 2020
Spaniard follows lead of Kyrgios
Nadal's announcement comes hot on the heels of a similar move from men's rival Nick Kyrgios, who used a video message over the weekend to explain why he wasn't travelling to New York.
Kyrgios' compatriot Ash Barty became the highest profile women's player to pull out of the US Open last week, when the World No.1 said she wasn't willing to take the risk amid the current COVID-19 crisis.
The Madrid Open, which was scheduled to take place from September 12-20, was cancelled on Tuesday due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish capital.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion in New York, headlines the men's list along with last year's runner-up Daniil Medvedev and other top 10 players including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
Nine of the top 10 women's players, including 23-times grand slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.
As many as 13 grand slam champions are in the women's draw including Romania's Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner and this year's Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for August 31.
with Yahoo Sport staff