For the second time in his career, Rafael Nadal will not defend the title at the US Open. The second Major of the season is scheduled for the end of August if the coronavirus allows the action in New York, gathering some of the world's finest players but not Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Nadal's decision came as no surprise, as the 19-time Major champion never fancied all the measures related to the virus and the players' safety. Rafa was practicing on clay in the last couple of weeks, preparing for the clay swing that will not include his home Madrid Open, leaving him in contention for titles in Rome and Paris.
Heading to the last year's US Open following the title in Montreal, Rafa was among the favorites and went all the way to claim his fourth trophy in New York and 19th at Majors. In the fourth round, the Spaniard delivered his best tennis in sets three and four to topple former champion Marin Cilic, setting the clash against Diego Schwartzman.
World no. 2 had to dig deep to score straight-sets triumph in under three hours, delivering a rock-solid performance versus Matteo Berrettini to advance into the final. There, Rafa took down Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in four hours and 49 minutes of incredible tennis.
He became the fifth player in the Open era with four titles in New York, giving his 120% to topple the youngster who refused to surrender in his first Major final. Alongside Nadal, Medvedev was the player to beat that summer, saving enough energy to challenge the more experienced rival in the last three sets and give the crowd on Arthur Ashe something to cheer about.
Rafael Nadal will not defend the title in New York.
Nadal was two sets to love and a break up when Daniil started to fight back, stealing the third set and setting up a decider in what could have been the most miraculous turnaround in the last seven decades in New York.
In a manner of a true champion, Nadal survived the opening service game in the fifth set and moved over the top with a double break, bringing the victory home and celebrating one of the most essential titles in a career. The US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster said they support Nadal's decision to skip the event, calling him one of the greatest players of all time.
She added they all look forward to seeing him in the draw next year, and in other tournaments that he would enter in the rest of 2020. "Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest champions in our sport's history, and we support this decision," said Stacey Allaster, the US Open tournament director.
"I know our fans will be disappointed to not have Rafa playing this year's Western & Southern Open and US Open. However, for the fans and the sport, we look forward to being inspired by him when he decides he's ready to play."