Rafael Nadal: 'I have to follow my heart and withdraw from the US Open'

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Rafael Nadal: 'I have to follow my heart and withdraw from the US Open'

The 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal has decided to skip the upcoming US Open. The coronavirus pandemic has halted the men's tennis action for the last five months, and the season should restart in Washington in a couple of weeks, under strict rules.

They should be even tighter for Cincinnati and the US Open (both held in New York), and some players are not ready to travel to the States in these conditions. The four-time champion, Nadal, is the leader of that pack, never liking the restart rules and not practicing on hard courts in recent weeks.

Instead, the Spaniard has spent time with his family, playing golf and practicing on clay ahead of Rome and Roland Garros. Madrid Open will not take place in September but that didn't change Nadal's decision, opting to skip New York and switch his focus to Roland Garros, where he seeks the 13th title.

In the last year's final, Rafa took down Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in four hours and 49 minutes.

Thus, he became the fifth player in the Open era with four titles in New York, digging deep to cross the finish line first against the rival who refused to surrender.

Alongside Nadal, Medvedev was the player to beat that summer, saving enough energy to challenge Rafa in the last three sets and give the crowd on Arthur Ashe something to cheer about. Nadal was two sets to love ahead and had a break in the third before Daniil mounted his comeback, stealing the third set and setting up a decider in what could have been the most significant turnaround in the last 70 years in New York.

In a manner of a true champion, Nadal survived in the fifth set's opening service game and moved over the top with a double break, bringing the victory home and celebrating one of the most cherished titles in a career.

"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, and it looks like we still don't have control of it. We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four 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 organizers 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," Rafael Nadal said.