Defending champion Rafael Nadal has announced a significant change that will alter the 2020 season. He has pulled out of the U.S. Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He cited the "complicated situation" and said that it appears that "we don't have control" over 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," Nadal tweeted on Tuesday. "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."
Nadal explained that this is "a decision I never wanted to take" and said that he has decided to follow his heart. This statement prompted several supportive responses from fans on social media, but this was not a universal opinion. Many others tweeted at Nadal and said that they "are disappointed" in him now that he won't entertain them.
The U.S. Open will start on Aug. 31 in New York and has seen more than one person opt-out of the competition. Ash Barty, the No. 1 ranked woman, also announced that she would not take part in the U.S. Open. Players can withdraw until the start of play.
If Nadal participated, he would have the opportunity to match Roger Federer's record for Grand Slam singles titles. The Swiss tennis pro secured 20 during his career and set an all-time record. Nadal currently sits at 19.
Nadal's statement follows news that the Madrid Open is not taking place. The competition was initially set for May but moved to September due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the competition is simply not happening.
"Following the strong recommendation of the local health authorities, and having monitored the situation for months, the organizers of the Mutua Madrid Open have no choice but to cancel the tournament due to the complex situation that COVID-19 continues to generate in every regard," event organizers said in a statement. "After a spike in COVID-19 cases, the community of Madrid announced a few days ago a number of new measures to control the virus' spread, including a directive that social gatherings are to be reduced to 10 people, both in public and private meetings, further reducing the feasibility of operating the tournament."