The US Open field seems to be weakening by the day as Stan Wawrinka joins Rafa Nadal, Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils in refusing to travel to New York and participate on the hardcourts of Flushing Meadows whilst the country is facing an increase in the numbers infected by the Corona-19 virus.
There is the health situation which is particular in New York. I did not want to go the US under these conditions. And the sequence of tournaments which follows after the US Open will be tough Stan Wawrinka
In addition to the Swiss’ withdrawal, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens in the women’s draw, have also decided to give what will be the second grand slam of the year, a miss.
Wawrinka, the US Open winner in 2016, explained: “There is the health situation which is particular in New York. I did not want to go the US under these conditions.” The 35-year-old added: “And the sequence of tournaments which follows after the US Open will be tough.”
Svitolina and Bertens join Ashleigh Barty on the sidelines for much the same reasons.
Last year’s semi-finalist, Svitolina, wrote on social media that she doesn’t “feel comfortable to travel to US without putting my team and myself at high risk” while Bertens, said on Instagram that one of her concerns is the need to be quarantined upon returning to Europe after the U.S. Open, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
“The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority,” the Dutchwoman wrote.
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said on Friday his group with the WTA, ATP, the French tennis federation and government officials in Italy and France are discussing these particular problems around quarantine.
“We are confident that working with this extended group, we will be able to get the assurances the players would like,” Widmaier wrote in an email.
Meanwhile the USTA has no plans for calling off the US Open should a number of players start testing positive for the virus during the championship though a player who does, will be immediately eliminated from the event.
According to a 10½-page “Player Q&A Update” sent out this week by the USTA, “There are no guidelines available to determine what number (of positive tests) will compel” the cancellation of the US Open or The Western & Southern Open preceding it.
Among the coronavirus-related protocols explained in this week’s USTA update for players:
— Players and guests — up to three per entrant in singles — must pass two coronavirus nasal swab tests 48 hours apart after arriving, although they’re allowed to go to the tournament site if the first test comes back negative. “We anticipate results will be returned in 24 hours or less,” the USTA document says.
— Antibody tests are encouraged, but not required. Those who test positive for antibodies will take follow-up COVID-19 tests every seven days; those with negative results for antibodies — or who aren’t checked — must take COVID-19 tests every four days for the rest of their time in the “bubble.”
— Players need written permission from tournament director Stacy Allaster or the chief medical officer to leave the “bubble” established for both events at Flushing Meadows — otherwise, they’ll be fined and kicked out of the competition. If coaches or guests exit the “bubble,” they’ll lose their 2020 credential and not be allowed to get one next year.
— Aside from two official hotels for players and their guests, there will be private housing available for rent. Anyone staying there will undergo the same initial testing procedures and then will need further nasal swabs every four days, the USTA said, “unless the medical team determines otherwise.”
— Players staying at rental homes need to have — and pay for — 24-hour security, and the USTA “must be provided with access to the external security egress and ingress information for the duration of the time in the private housing.”
Fans now await news as to whether Novak Djokovic, Simona Halep and some other players who have voiced concerns will make the trip to the Big Apple.