Rafael Nadal Announces He Will Not Play in 2020 US Open amid COVID-19 Concerns

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2020

Spain's Rafael Nadal pumps his fist as he defeats Spain's Pablo Andujar in the opening round of the Mexican Open tennis tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

Four-time U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal announced Tuesday he won't take part in the 2020 tournament, citing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rafa Nadal @RafaelNadal

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.

Rafa Nadal @RafaelNadal

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. https://t.co/8VA0aSACVy

Nadal's decision comes less than a week after Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 women's player in the world, signaled her intention to skip the event.

CNN's Jill Martin shared the updated men's singles draw without Nadal:

Jill Martin @ByJillMartin

US Open men’s singles list. No Nadal. https://t.co/yfiexZBH6u

In June, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on plans to stage the U.S. Open without fans at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The ATP Tour and WTA also moved the Western & Southern Open from its usual home of Mason, Ohio, to New York City as a tune-up for the U.S. Open.

Nadal's concerns appear to extend beyond just the U.S. Open, as he called the ATP's schedule "barbaric" after the pandemic forced officials to bring the season to a halt.

The ATP initially rolled out a six-week hiatus, during which time it would watch the situation evolve. Play won't officially resume until the Western & Southern Open, which begins Aug. 24. 

Nadal hasn't stepped on the court for a competitive match since winning the Mexican Open in February.

In addition to the absence of the defending champion, the U.S. Open will have to cope without five-time champ Roger Federer, who confirmed in June he is sitting out the remainder of the season because of knee problems.

Jose Morgado of Portuguese newspaper Record noted the 1999 U.S. Open was the last Grand Slam tournament that didn't feature either Federer or Nadal.