The US Open Series is the lead-up to the US Open and as players battle it out in Montréal, the biggest guns generally line up for the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, also a WTA 1000 tournament, next week but the withdrawals are already flooding in.
Unfortunately, I will not be playing in the Western & Southern Open next week as I am still in recovery from my leg injury at Wimbledon. I will miss all of my fans in Cincinnati whom I look forward to seeing every summer. I plan to be back on the court very soon. Serena Williams
Cinci features both men and women, and so far Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have pulled out as well as both Serena and Venus Williams and Sofia Kenin.
Rafael Nadal joined the list on Wednesday due to his ongoing left foot injury, the tournament has announced.
The injury has already forced the 20-time Grand Slam champion to miss Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, and threatens to derail his US Open campaign after announcing he will also miss next week’s Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati.
Nadal said the pain of the injury was not allowing him to enjoy being out on the court.
“I have had this issue for a couple of months, as people know,” the Spaniard said after pulling out of Toronto. “Of course, it is not a happy situation after all the success that I had here in Canada, not being able to play this year after missing a year.
“It’s a tough one, but that’s how it is today. I need to go back and try to find a way to be better again.
“At the end of the day, for me, the most important thing is to enjoy playing tennis.
“Today, with this pain, I am not able to enjoy it, and I really don’t believe that I have the chance to fight for the things that I really need to fight for.”
Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion and former World No 1, has not played since retiring injured in her first round match at Wimbledon, where she slipped on the grass and hurt her leg.
Now ranked 20, Serena was forced to retire from her opening-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in June after slipping on a wet Centre Court surface at the All England Club.
In a statement, the 39-year-old said: “Unfortunately, I will not be playing in the Western & Southern Open next week as I am still in recovery from my leg injury at Wimbledon.
“I will miss all of my fans in Cincinnati whom I look forward to seeing every summer. I plan to be back on the court very soon.”
The tournament also announced Williams’s sister Venus and compatriot Sofia Kenin will not be taking part in the event.
Kenin said she was withdrawing in order to get her body right for the US Open, while the reason for Venus’ withdrawal was not disclosed.
Sidelined by a foot injury sustained in her second round loss to Madison Brengle, Kenin stated “Unfortunately I had to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open next week.
“I am rehabbing well in hopes to play the US Open later this month. I feel another week of recovery is necessary.”
Her withdrawal came ahead of Rafael Nadal’s Cincinnati hopes were thrown into doubt after the Spaniard withdrew from the ongoing Canada Open on Tuesday and then pulling out of Cinci the following day when Canadian Milos Raonic also withdrew due to a heel injury.
Last year, the former World No 3 made the final of the Western & Southern Open, which was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The women’s field is lead by World No 1 Ash Barty, with Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Iga Swiatek, Garbiñe Muguruza and Simona Halep.
Federer withdrew from both the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters 1000 events citing his ongoing knee injury, while Djokovic decided to skip both as he rests following the Tokyo Olympics.
In a statement, the Serb said he was setting his sights firmly on the US Open, where he could become the first man in the Open Era to complete the Calendar Grand Slam.
“I wanted to share with you that I’m taking a bit longer to recover after quite a physically taxing journey from the Australian Open to Tokyo,” he said in a statement.
“Sadly, this means I won’t be ready to compete in Cincinnati this year so I’ll be turning my focus to the US Open and spending more time with my family. Can’t wait to see you in New York soon!”
Daniil Medvedev heads the men’s field, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and Pablo Carreno Busta the top seeds.