The Western & Southern Open, the tournament moved from Cincinnati to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to precede the U.S. Open, released its entry list on Wednesday, with some notable attendees, and some notable absentees. What the entry list means for the Open’s field has yet to be determined.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are among the top men’s players who have entered the W&S, which begins on Aug. 20.
Not on the women’s list is the reigning U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu and the top two ranked players in the world, Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Simona Halep of Romania, who has consistently expressed her concern about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barty said in a statement to the Australian Associated Press on Thursday that she has withdrawn from the U.S. Open because she is not comfortable with traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Naomi Osaka, the 2018 women’s Open champ, also opted out. There is a chance that wild cards could be issued if there is a change of heart.
Serena Williams has entered and previously said she would play the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 31.
Djokovic announced on June 23 that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after he played in a series of exhibition matches called the Adria Tour he organized in Serbia and Croatia with no social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. He was recently observed practicing in Belgrade with the official U.S. Open balls.
Nadal, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has expressed concerns about the resumption of tennis and traveling to the United States. He has also committed to play in the Madrid Open, a clay court event he has won five times and immediately follows the U.S. Open. If he chooses to not play the Open he will be permitted to retain his 2019 Open champion points for another year as part of the ATP's revised ranking structure.
Similar to the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot, the New York State Department of Health is treating players and entourages arriving from around the globe as essential workers and they will not be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
“We continue to stay very close to the state of New York,” said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier. “They understand what our controlled environment will be and they are very satisfied with it. They realize that players and other personnel at the tournament fall under the guidelines they have developed for professional sports. We don’t anticipate that being and issue in New York.
“The second portion of this is people returning to Europe to compete in the next series of events. The USTA is working every day very diligently with the governmental ministries in Spain, Italy and France to get the same type of assurance we are getting from the state of New York. We think we are very close. We feel this will not be an issue for the players.”