Rafael Nadal explains US Open decision: 'It wasn't easy, but I had to do it'

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Rafael Nadal explains US Open decision: 'It wasn't easy, but I had to do it'

The 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will not defend the title at the US Open in September. The coronavirus pandemic has halted the men's tennis action for the last five months, and the season should restart in New York (Cincinnati and the US Open) in a couple of weeks, under strict rules.

Many players are not ready to travel to the United States in these conditions and risk quarantine once they return to Europe. The four-time US Open champion, Nadal, is the leader of that pack, never preferring the restart rules and avoiding hard courts in recent weeks.

Instead, the Spaniard has been spending time with friends and family, enjoying his new yacht, 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 focus to Roland Garros, where he seeks the 13th title.

Just like in 2014, Rafael Nadal will not defend the title in New York this summer.

In the recent interview, Rafa said it would be best to close the year and focus on 2021, although he understands there are many things involved.

His decision to skip the US Open wasn't easy or taken for granted, consulting his team and family and making the best choice in the given circumstances. 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 gave his everything in the quest for the first Major crown. Nadal was two sets to love ahead, with a break in the third before Daniil mounted his comeback, stealing the 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 passed the obstacle at the beginning of the decider, moving a double break up and sealing the deal in the tenth game after a lot of drama. "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.

My heart tells me that it would be better to focus on 2021 and leave the current season behind, but there are many other interests. Like all decisions, it wasn't taken lightly, and I had to discuss it with the people around me.

I believe that in the current situation, all decisions are valid. There is nothing safe or correct," Rafael Nadal said.