Defending champion Bianca Andreescu became the latest high-profile player to opt out of the US Open on Thursday.

Andreescu has not played on the WTA Tour since October due to knee trouble and the 20-year-old says a lack of match practice, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, means she is not ready to return in New York.

The Canadian's withdrawal comes after Rafael Nadal, the 2019 men's singles champion, pulled out due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Andreescu posted on social media: "After many discussions with those closest to me, I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year.

"I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level.

"The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there.

"However, I realise that the unforeseen challenges, including the COVID pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.

"I want to express my appreciation to the USTA and the WTA for all of their efforts in making the event happen. I look forward to joining my competitors back on court soon."

Novak Djokovic will take part in the US Open and play the Western and Southern Open beforehand.

With the ATP Tour set to resume after the coronavirus-enforced break, world number one Djokovic has confirmed he will arrive in New York on Saturday.

Though Djokovic will be present at the US Open, defending champion Rafael Nadal will not play due to concerns over coronavirus, while world number four Rodger Federer is taking time out to recover from knee surgery.

The Western and Southern Open – usually held in Cincinnati – will take place at Flushing Meadows between August 22 and 28, with the US Open starting at the same venue on August 31. Both tournaments will be played behind closed doors.

Djokovic came under criticism for being the driving force behind the Adria Tour, which drew large crowds before the event was cancelled after Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for COVID-19.

Borna Coric and Djokovic subsequently returned positive tests, with the Serbian claiming he was the subject of "a witch hunt".

However, Djokovic will now return to action in August, though the 33-year-old acknowledged it was tough to make up his mind.

"I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western and Southern Open and US Open this year," a post on Djokovic's official website read.

"It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.

"During my career, I have played some of my best matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

"I am aware that this time around it will be very different with all the protocols and safety measures that are put in place to protect players and people of New York."

Djokovic insisted he has fully recovered from coronavirus and has done all he can to ensure the safety of himself and those around him. 

"I have trained hard with my team and got my body in shape so I am ready to adapt to new conditions," the post continued.

"I've done all the check-ups to make sure I am fully recovered and I am ready to get back on court fully committed to playing my best tennis.

"I respect and appreciate everyone taking time, effort, and energy to organise these two events for the tennis players to be able to go back to their working field."

Women's world number one Ash Barty has will not take part in the US Open, while top-10 players Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens have also withdrawn.

World number two Simona Halep is set to decide on her participation following the Prague Open, which finishes on Sunday.

Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens will not take part in this year's US Open due to concerns about coronavirus.

Svitolina and Bertens on Friday became the latest high-profile players to opt out of the tournament that is due to be played behind closed doors in New York from August 31.

With women's world number one Ash Barty having already decided against competing, three of the WTA Tour's top 10 players have now pulled out.

Svitolina, ranked fifth in the world, posted on Twitter: "Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020.

"I want to thank the USTA [United States Tennis Association], organisers and WTA for giving the players a chance to play and the fans a chance to watch this great event.

"I understand and respect all the efforts they are putting in to make it happen in a safe environment, but I still don't feel comfortable to travel to the US without putting my team and myself at high risk."

World number seven Bertens said the 14-day quarantine upon returning to the Netherlands from the USA would prove too much of hindrance to her preparation for the French Open, which will take place from September 27.

"After long consideration I have decided not to go to the States for Cincinnati [the Western and Southern Open, which has been moved to New York] and the US Open," Bertens posted on Instagram.

"The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority.

"[The Dutch] prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the States. Of course, we respect this as a team and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay court tournaments in Rome and Paris.

"I hope the situation will soon take a positive turn and wish everyone good health."

The WTA Tour returned this week with the Palermo Open and, after skipping that event, world number two Simona Halep has arrived in the Czech Republic to play in the Prague Open next week.

Halep previously admitted to having concerns about participating in the US Open.

Reigning men's singles champion Rafael Nadal will not take part due to worries about COVID-19, while Roger Federer will miss out after undergoing knee surgery.

Novak Djokovic is expected to make a definitive announcement on his participation this week.

Kim Clijsters and Andy Murray are heading back to Flushing Meadows after receiving wildcards for the US Open.

The former champions, who both won their first major title at the New York grand slam, will bolster a line-up that has lost some of its star appeal.

Confirmation of their wildcards came on Thursday from organisers of the tournament, which begins on August 31 and is set to be played behind closed doors.

The tournament will go ahead without its reigning men's champion Rafael Nadal and women's world number one Ash Barty, with both opting out after expressing COVID-19 concerns.

Clijsters has won three US Open titles, in 2005, 2009 and 2010, and announced late last year she would be coming out of retirement after seven years away from top-level tennis.

She played just two tour matches before the coronavirus pandemic caused the WTA Tour to shut down, losing to Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta.

The 37-year-old has been playing World Team Tennis for the New York Empire while the regular season has been suspended, producing impressive form she will hope to take onto the bigger stage.

Clijsters has been a wildcard entrant before, famously winning the 2009 title just weeks after returning to action following a two-year retirement in which she became a mother.

Murray, who made his slam title breakthrough when beating Novak Djokovic in the 2012 US Open final, has been battling hip injury problems in recent seasons and has fallen outside the world's top 100, largely because of inactivity.

The 33-year-old sits at 129th in the ATP rankings and, like Clijsters, will play at the Western and Southern Open before the US Open.

That tournament, ordinarily held in Cincinnati, has been moved to Flushing Meadows as tennis builds its bio-secure bubble.

Unusually, the US Open will be the second major of the year rather than the last, Wimbledon having been cancelled and the French Open moved to a September 27 start.

This year's US Open winners will receive $850,000 less than the 2019 champions, but the United States Tennis Association (USTA) upped the first-round prize money.

The major will take place behind closed doors in New York amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to begin on August 31.

Men's and women's singles winners in 2020 will receive $3million, down from the $3.85m that was paid out last year, with the total player compensation package dropping from a record $57.2m for the previous edition to $53.4m.

While runners-up, semi- and quarter-finalists will also see their payouts reduced, a first-round appearance will earn $61,000 in 2020 – an increase from $58,000 in 2019.

The USTA will also provide $6.6m in grants and subsidies to players due to the absence of a qualifying tournament and a reduced doubles draw.

"We're proud to be able to offer a player compensation package that maintains nearly 95 per cent of the prize pool from 2019," said USTA CEO and executive director Mike Dowse.

"The prize money distribution for the 2020 US Open is the result of close collaboration between the USTA, WTA and ATP, and represents a commitment to supporting players and their financial well-being during an unprecedented time."

Men's reigning champion Rafael Nadal and women's world number one Ash Barty have opted out of the US Open due to concerns about COVID-19.

Rafael Nadal will respect the decision of any player who competes in the US Open for much-needed prize money as he further explained why he will not be taking part.

World number two Nadal announced on Tuesday he will not defend his title in New York due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March but is due to resume this month, with the US Open scheduled to get under way behind closed doors on August 31.

As well as having concerns about the global health crisis, Nadal thought playing hard-court tournaments immediately before the rescheduled clay-court swing could have hindered the potential longevity of his career.

However, the 34-year-old acknowledged not all players can afford to pass up the prize money on offer at the major following a heavily disrupted season.

"In the current situation all decisions are valid," Nadal told a news conference on Wednesday.

"There are few things that influenced my decision and the first one is the sanitary reason. The situation worldwide does not look under control, so after checking with my team and family we decide to remain here.

"Secondly, there is a complicated calendar after many months without competing. To play on the hard surface first and then change to clay without a break is dangerous for my body and for my future, so this is another factor.

"And then obviously the personal spirits. Many people are going through a hard time and my mood wasn't ideal to travel to New York and to have all the senses focused in the competition and to give the maximum.

"With the many protocols that we have, it would have been complicated in addition to all that is happening in the world.

"I am not the one to say whether it is a wise decision or not [to stage the US Open]. I respect all the work and the positive attitude of the ATP and the USTA [United States Tennis Association] to make tennis come back.

"I also respect the other players who decide to go, because they have, for example, a different situation and want to earn money there that they need. I respect all decisions, but today it is difficult to say if it is the right thing or not."

The cancellation of the Madrid Open means Kitzbuhel and Rome are the only clay-court events remaining on the schedule ahead of the French Open, which was moved to a start date of September 28.

Nadal is yet to make a final decision on his plans ahead of the defence of his title at Roland Garros, where he has been triumphant a record 12 titles.

"I am preparing for clay in Europe. It depends on how the situation is and if everything is under control or not," said Nadal.

"I understood that it was much better for my body to train on a slow surface, which is less aggressive for the general well-being. Although that did not take away from me being able to play later in New York.

"I do not know if I will play Rome or not. I await news of the new adapted calendar after the cancellation of Madrid and from there I will have to make decisions."

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will not play in the US Open due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The world number two had long since cast doubt over whether he would travel to New York for a grand slam that will get under way behind closed doors on August 31.

Nadal on Tuesday confirmed he is not ready to play at Flushing Meadows, a matter of hours after it was announced that the Madrid Open - due to be staged next month - had been cancelled amid the global pandemic

"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US Open. The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it," he tweeted.

"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.

"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.

"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 legendary Spaniard's decision to pull out means he will not match Roger Federer's record tally of 20 grand slam singles titles in New York, where the Swiss great will also be absent after undergoing season-ending knee surgery.

Women's world number one Ash Barty also withdrew from the US Open last week, as she was not prepared to take the "significant risks" of heading to the United States.

Novak Djokovic, top of the men's rankings, is on the list of players due to feature but also cast doubts over whether he would play even before he tested positive for COVID-19.

It remains to be seen whether Nadal will make the trip to Paris for the French Open, a major he has dominated that is set to start on September 27.

World number seven Alexander Zverev is still unsure if he will play the US Open.

The grand slam is scheduled to start on August 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic, but uncertainty remains over the strength of the field due to health concerns.

Zverev, coming off three wins at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, is unsure if he will make the trip to New York.

"I will see because the situation right now in the US is not that great so I don't know what we will decide with my team," the German told Tennis Majors.

"I want to play tournaments, but I think the US right now is a little bit of a funny place."

The United States has seen more than 4.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, with the death toll exceeding 158,000.

Zverev, 23, said he would wait and see before making a decision on the US Open.

"I think just see how it develops over the next few weeks, if the cases go up, how the travelling will be and if it will be safe," he said.

"I might not to go there if I don't feel safe, my team doesn't feel safe. I'm still quite young but everybody that is involved with me maybe is a little bit older and they're in more danger than I am."

Australian star Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the upcoming US Open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Open is schedule to start on August 31 in New York, however, Kyrgios will not feature at Flushing Meadows out of respect for his fellow Australians and the Americans who have died from COVID-19.

Kyrgios has been outspoken during the ATP Tour's lockdown, hitting out at Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour – an exhibition event in June which saw the Serbian star, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki test positive for coronavirus.

"Let's take a breath here and remember what's important, which is health and safety as a community. We can re-build our sport and the economy but we can never recover lives lost," Kyrgios said in a video published by Uninterrupted, following WTA number one and countrywoman Ashleigh Barty in sitting out the grand slam.

"I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that's up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely. No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me. I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.

"But tennis players - we have to act in the interests of each other and work together.

"You can't be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That's just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That's what this virus is about,

"It doesn't care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.

"To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that.

"I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport's greatest arenas Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"But I'm sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives, for all of you. It is my decision, like it or not. And those are my reasons."

Andy Murray expects others stars to skip the US Open after Ashleigh Barty announced she would not play the tournament.

The US Open is scheduled to start on August 31, but Barty – the world number one – said on Thursday she has decided against playing the grand slam due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States has been hit hard by COVID-19, with more than 4.6 million cases and a death toll exceeding 154,000.

Murray, who is planning to play the US Open, said he expected others to opt against playing at Flushing Meadows.

"I think we will see it quite a bit," the three-time major champion said on Thursday.

"I have heard some of the top male players aren't going to play. I would expect that would be the case."

Murray said he held some concerns about the tournament, but believes he will be safe once he arrives.

"It's everyone's personal decision. If they don't feel safe, and don't feel comfortable, travelling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it's completely understandable," he said.

"All of the players will have some reservations and it's whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk.

"Like I said the other day, my feeling is once we are inside that bubble they created, we will be okay. It's more the international travel and getting there which I will be a bit concerned about it."

World number one Ashleigh Barty has decided to skip the US Open due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The French Open champion will not make her return in the United States, where the WTA Tour season's resumption is due to continue next month.

Barty, 24, said concerns over COVID-19 meant she was skipping the US Open, with the USA having seen more than 150,000 deaths due to coronavirus.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," the Australian told the Herald Sun on Thursday.

"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.

"I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year."

The French Open is also still scheduled to go ahead, beginning at Roland Garros on September 27.

Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year, offered no guarantees she would defend her title in Paris.

"I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks," she said.

Andy Murray is planning mentally for the US Open next month despite uncertainty over whether the event will go ahead. 

The grand slam is due to begin behind closed doors on August 31, but concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the United States and the potential disruption for players on arrival in New York has cast doubt over it taking place. 

The return of the ATP Tour was delayed further when the Citi Open in Washington, an important event in the hard-court season set to get underway on August 13, was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

A number of players, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep, have expressed doubts about taking part at the US Open. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is expected to confirm in the next 10 days whether it will take place. 

Murray, champion at Flushing Meadows in 2012, has his concerns too, but is still preparing to compete. 

"Four or five weeks ago, we were pretty sceptical about it," he said, as per BBC Sport. "But mentally at some stage you need to start preparing and planning for that. 

"If it wasn't happening, my schedule for practising, my rehab, would all be a bit different. Mentally I'm planning for it to go ahead. 

"The issue for us is the travel, so we'll probably be a bit apprehensive getting over there. 

"Hopefully, the US Open can go ahead, and it's okay. But if not, I'm also okay with that. It's not like I'm saying it must go ahead. So long as it's safe for the players then we need to try to get back to competing when it's safe to do so." 

The pandemic has had a significant toll on the 2020 tennis calendar, with no ATP tournaments having been held since February. 

The French Open was moved to later in the year, while Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since 1945.

Petra Kvitova says there is no guarantee she will compete in the US Open and she knows of players who will definitely not enter the draw in the current climate.

Flushing Meadows is set to stage what will be the second major of the year behind closed doors from August 31 to September 13.

Over 32,000 people in New York state have died after contracting the coronavirus, with more than 431,000 cases reported.

US Open organisers vowed that the tournament will go ahead in the "safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks".

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova says some players will not travel as it stands.

"I know a few players will definitely not go if the restrictions are like they are now," the world number 12 from the Czech Republic told BBC Radio 5 Live.

She added: "I'm still thinking of what everything will look like, what the restrictions will be, how many people we can take and if they quarantine us."

Kvitova, who has been playing in front of fans at a grass-court exhibition tournament in Berlin this week, is not 100 per cent sure she will head out to the United States next month.

She said: "Playing without the fans in grand slams, I can't really see it.

"If that happens and everything is okay, I will go for sure to compete but there's still a chance I will not go. I will decide when I know everything."

The WTA Tour is set to resume at the Palermo Ladies Open on August 3.

Tennis lovers worldwide should have been licking their lips in anticipation of the Wimbledon finals this weekend.

There were two contrasting singles championship matches last year, Simona Halep dismantling Serena Williams before Novak Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer in an epic marathon five-set thriller.

Centre Court crowds and millions watching all over the planet have been treated to classic finals over the years, but there have also been showdowns that many would have expected to see that never transpired.

While there was no 2020 grass-court grand slam this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at a selection of finals that never occurred at the All England Club for one reason or another.

 

Steffi Graf v Martina Hingis

Graf and Hingis met twice at SW19 but the latest round in which they did battle was for a place in the quarter-finals.

German legend Graf was unable to go for a third consecutive Wimbledon title in 1997 due to injury and it was Swiss sensation Hingis who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first and only time, defeating Jana Novotna.

Novotna gained revenge by dumping Hingis out at the semi-final stage 12 months later after Graf - 12 years older than Hingis - was beaten by Natasha Zvereva in the third round.

Hingis never went beyond the quarter-finals after that, while in 1999 Graf fell to Lindsay Davenport in her last appearance at a tournament she won seven times.

 

John McEnroe v Boris Becker

McEnroe and Becker have shared a commentary box at Wimbledon, but they were never on the opposite side of the net in a final.

A packed crowd would have most certainly been on the edge of their seats to watch two of the most colourful characters in the sport throw everything at each other in pursuit of major glory, but it was not to be.

The closest it came to materialising was in 1989, when American legend McEnroe was denied a place in the final by Stefan Edberg.

Becker beat Edberg in the final to take the title for a third and last time. They may well have met in a final if McEnroe had not missed the 1986 tournament due to taking a break from the sport or suffered a back injury the following year.

 

Justine Henin v Kim Clijsters

Belgium would have surely come to a standstill if Henin and Clijsters had graced Centre Court in a final.

Henin won seven grand slam titles before retiring in 2008 aged only 25 and although she made a comeback in 2010, the former world number one called it a day again the following year as she struggled with an elbow injury.

She quit as a two-time Wimbledon runner-up, while Clijsters - who announced she was making a surprise comeback last year - has never reached the final at SW19.

Semi-final appearances in 2003 and 2006 are as far as Clijsters has been at Wimbledon, and it is a great shame the four-time major singles winner and her compatriot never contested a battle of Belgium for one of the biggest prizes in sport at the peak of their powers.

 

Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal

There have been 24 matches contested by Murray and Nadal, with three of those staged at Wimbledon.

Nadal broke the hearts of Murray fans by beating him on each occasion at his home grand slam, twice in the semi-finals and once in the last eight 12 years ago.

You have to go back to 2011 for Spanish legend Nadal's last appearance in a Wimbledon final, while Murray was crowned champion four years ago but has not played in the tournament since 2017 due to career-threatening hip injury.

While a fit-again Murray is hoping to work his way back to the top and Nadal remains a huge force, time is not on their side and it appears unlikely they will be opponents in a Wimbledon final.

Wimbledon has been praised for its "amazing" decision to pay players £10million from a prize money pot despite the 2020 tournament being cancelled.

The All England Club (AELTC) had pandemic insurance, meaning its decision to call off the championships in April was not one that risked becoming a huge financial blow.

It was revealed on Friday that 620 players would benefit, based on world rankings, potentially handing a lifeline to lowly players from across the world who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Wimbledon is paying out £25,000 per competitor to 256 players from the men's and women's singles, and £12,500 to a further 224 players who would have taken part in qualifying.

Doubles players and those from the wheelchair events will also collect money from the fund, with Wimbledon stressing there would be only one payment per player, meaning there could be no claims for multiple events.

Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters wrote on Twitter: "Amazing news — always a class act and leader of our sport!! Well done @Wimbledon – can't wait to be back next year!"

Clijsters, 37, was in the early stages of a comeback after seven years in retirement when the COVID-19 outbreak led to tennis being suspended across the globe.

The Belgian is a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist who would have almost certainly received a wildcard into this year's tournament.

Spain's Paula Badosa, the world number 94, indicated what the windfall would mean to rank-and-file players.

"Such a nice gesture @Wimbledon on these tough moments. Means the world for us, thank you," Badosa wrote.

Wimbledon said its decision was taken "in the spirit of the AELTC's prize money distribution in recent years".

This year marked the first time Wimbledon had been called off since World War II. Its finals would have been contested this weekend.

AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said: "Immediately following the cancellation of the championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen.

"We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.

"We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into the championships 2020."

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