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Defending champion Rafael Nadal will skip the U.S. Open because of the coronavirus pandemic, putting on hold his bid to equal Roger Federer’s men’s record for Grand Slam titles.

Nadal explained his decision in a series of tweets sent in Spanish and English on Tuesday.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal wrote.

The 34-year-old from Spain called sitting out the tournament scheduled to begin Aug. 31 in New York “a decision I never wanted to take,” but added that he would “rather not travel.”

The current No. 1-ranked woman, Ash Barty, already had announced she would be missing the U.S. Open.

The professional tennis tours have been on hiatus since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with play resuming for women on Monday in Palermo, Italy. The first men’s event on the main tour is scheduled to be held later this month.

His announcement came shortly after the Madrid Open, scheduled for September, was canceled because of the pandemic.

“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after 4 months stopped with no play,” Nadal wrote on Twitter. “I understand and thank for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen.”

In last year’s thriller of a men’s final at Flushing Meadows, Nadal edged Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in 4 hours, 50 minutes. That gave Nadal four titles at the U.S. Open and a total of 19 across all the Grand Slam tournaments, just one away from Federer’s career mark.

Federer will be absent from the U.S. Open, too, but because of two operations on his right knee this year.

Reuters

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