Spanish star Rafael Nadal in action. File photo
Defending champion Rafael Nadal said Tuesday he will not play the US Open, citing concerns over the coronavirus and slamming tennis's "barbaric" revised calendar.
"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US 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.
"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."
The 34-year-old Spanish star also took aim at the international tennis schedule, which has been revised following disruptions sparked by COVID-19 shutdowns.
The US Open in New York, scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 13, will be followed a fortnight later by the French Open at Roland Garros.
"We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play..." Nadal said.
With Nadal's long-time rival Roger Federer already ruled out of the tournament as he recovers from knee surgery, the US Open will mark the first time since 1999 that neither player has featured in the main draw of a Grand Slam event.
Nadal, who has 19 Grand Slam victories, could have equalled Federer's tally of 20 Slam wins in New York.
Doubts about Nadal's willingness to play the US Open have swirled for months as tennis grapples with a calendar that has been decimated by pandemic disruption.
In June, Nadal warned he would not consider playing the US Open unless he was satisfied conditions were "completely safe."
Nadal's name was entered last week on the US Open tune-up tournament, the ATP/WTA Western and Southern Open, which will be held in New York this year instead of Cincinnati.
However Nadal had long harboured concerns over the proximity of the US Open and the swing of clay court events scheduled through September.
Nadal's uncle and long-time former coach, Toni, said in June that the former world number one was uncertain about which events he would play.Agence France-Presse
The Australian is the biggest name so far to withdraw from the tournament, with her decision coming as the United States marked a grim milestone when its COVID-19 deaths topped 150,000.
Nadal emerged triumphant that day, winning in five sets in a four-hour 48-minute epic of fluctuating fortunes that stretched out over seven hours because of constant, momentum-shifting rain interruptions.
Elina Svitolina became the first Ukrainian woman to reach the US Open semi-finals on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over British 16th seed Johanna Konta.
There will be something for every age at the US Open this weekend with golden oldies Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams looking for more US Open Grand Slam glory and Daniil Medvedev and teenager Bianca Andreescu poised to usher in a new era.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to take early advantage with a win in their first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International
Tadej Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the Tour de France after he retained the yellow jersey in the 21st stage on Sunday, a day after he pulled off a major coup to take the overall lead.
A rampant Delhi Capitals defeated Kings XI Punjab in the Super Over to register their first win of the season at the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Dubai on Sunday.