Andy Murray: More will follow Ashleigh Barty & pull out of US Open

Ashleigh Barty

Andy Murray thinks more top players will follow Australian women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty in pulling out of next month’s US Open because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grand Slam is set to take place behind closed doors from 31 August at Flushing Meadows in New York.

Barty said there are “still significant risks” in going to the United States.

“I think we will see it quite a bit. It’s everyone’s personal decision,” said Murray, who plans to play.

The 33-year-old Scot is hoping to play too in the Western and Southern Open, which immediately precedes the US Open and also takes place at Flushing Meadows in a safety bubble.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the men’s world number one, and Spain’s defending champion Rafael Nadal are both in the entry list for the Western and Southern Open despite neither making their intentions clear.

While American great Serena Williams has committed to the two tournaments, Romania’s world number two Simona Halep and Canada’s defending US Open champion Bianca Andreescu have not entered the lead-up event.

“I have heard some of the top male players aren’t going to play. I would expect that would be the case,” Murray added.

“If they don’t feel safe, and don’t feel comfortable, travelling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it’s completely understandable.

“All of the players will have some reservations and it’s whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk.”

Barty, 24, will be the first world number one not to play in the US Open women’s singles since 2010.

“There are still significant risks involved due to Covid-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position,” Barty told the Australian Associated Press.

“I wish the USTA [United States Tennis Association, the organiser] all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the US next year.”

Barty said she will make a decision on whether to defend her title at the rescheduled French Open, scheduled to begin on 27 September, “in the coming weeks”.

Analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

Assuming the US Open does go ahead – and the US Tennis Association still seems fiercely determined to stage it, despite numerous unanswered questions about quarantine – Barty will not be the only high-profile player absent.

If Halep and Andreescu do not play at the Western and Southern Open, which will take place at Flushing Meadows in the week before the US Open, then they seem very likely to skip the Grand Slam as well.

Many other players, though, are keeping their options open.

Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal appear in the entry list for the Western and Southern Open, although that does not mean they will definitely play.

The entry list for the US Open is due to close on Monday, by which time the USTA may well have confirmed its plans to stage this year’s tournament behind closed doors.

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