Rafael Nadal's forfeit at the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati and at the US Open wasn't a big surprise. Considering the Coronavirus emergency in the United States and the compression of the calendar, the Spanish phenomenon has decided to stay in Europe to better prepare for the season on clay.
In the event of a 13th win at Roland Garros, the former World number 1 would in fact equal the 20 Grand Slam titles of eternal rival Roger Federer (on the court no earlier than 2021). The Majorcan has specified that his absence and that of the Swiss will not affect the legitimacy of the New York Slam, which will be able to count on the number 1 ATP Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile Sumit Nagal, who showed off at Flushing Meadows last year by snatching a set from Federer, believes the tournament still has the stigmata of a Grand Slam, as it offers the same points in the standings despite being held in exceptional conditions.
Nagal on the US Open
"It's still a Slam, it’s still considered the US Open which is giving away 2000 (ranking) points and considering the title as good as any other title," asserted the World No. 127. "I understand Rafael Nadal and few other players have opted to stay out but that is their personal choice and you have to respect that," said the 22-year-old.
"In my opinion, the situation is a bit weird, it's not a fun time right now for anyone but you got to do what you got to do," Sumit Nagal said about the US Open. The spotlight will all be on Djokovic, still unbeaten in 2020 and winner of the Australian Open earlier this year.
At the same time, for the first time since 1999 we will see a Grand Slam without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The US Department of Homeland Security has granted athlete waivers to players and support personnel, meaning that non-US nationals can enter the country regardless of their home country and previous travel movements - but it is not yet clear whether there will be any quarantine requirement for those entering the US.
The situation is complicated by the rescheduled French Open taking place immediately after the US Open - with qualification beginning a week after the New York final, and the main draw action starting on Sunday September 27.
It is possible that those travelling from the US back to Europe would be required to self-isolate for a period of up to two weeks as well - meaning that at the current time many will have to choose between the two Slams.