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 men's 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 most prominent figure on that list at the moment, never preferring the restart rules and avoiding practicing on 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 Rafa didn't change his decision, opting to skip New York and keep preparing for Roland Garros where he would seek the 13th title.
In the recent interview, Rafa said it would be best to close the year and focus on 2021, although he understands there are many different things involved. His decision to skip the US Open wasn't easy or taken for granted, consulting his team and family and trying to make the best choice in the given circumstances.
Nadal cited health situation as his main reason for staying away from the US Open, followed by a quick transition from hard to clay, which wouldn't be good for his body. Also, the Spaniard mentioned the lack of fighting spirit over the last couple of weeks and after such a long break, unable to give his usual 100% and deciding to stay on the practice court.
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.
Rafael Nadal will not defend the title in New York won in 2019.
"The health situation is the first basic inconvenience when making my decision. The situation seems not in full control, so in this case, after consulting with my team, we decided to skip the US Open.
Second, the schedule is challenging after many months without competing. Going from hard court to clay, with hardly any time for preparation, is dangerous for my body and my future. Then, it is a matter of a personal spirit. The situation is as it is, and my spirit was not high enough to travel to New York and compete.
If I am going to compete, all my senses have to be focused on competition to perform at my best, and it would have been difficult to achieve that these days. Circumstances have forced me to make this decision," Rafael Nadal said.