Rafael Nadal to Skip U.S. Open Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal will skip the 2020 U.S. Open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadal announced his decision on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, saying it's "a decision I never wanted to take" but he would prefer to avoid traveling right now.

"The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it. We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play, I understand and thank [you] for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen," Nadal wrote. "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."

Nadal won the tournament in 2019 to lift his 19th major trophy and he aimed to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 major titles this year. Ashleigh Barty (the No. 1-ranked woman) and Nick Kyrgios have already announced they will miss the U.S. Open.

Nadal's decision comes shortly after the Madrid Open was canceled on Tuesday following a spike in coronavirus cases in Spain. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in May but organizers moved it to September due to Spain's high number of coronavirus cases. The Madrid Open was set to open the European clay season following the conclusion of the U.S. Open, but organizers were advised last weekend by local authorities to cancel the tournament.

The 2020 U.S. Open will begin as scheduled on Aug. 31 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. There will be no fans in attendance this year due to the ongoing pandemic.