"This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time," Rafael Nadal said

Rafael Nada
Rafael Nadal at the 2019 U.S. Open
| Credit: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has announced he will not be playing in the U.S. Open this year due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

The 34-year-old tennis star, who took home the U.S. Open title last year, shared the news on Twitter Tuesday evening, citing the fact that coronavirus cases are increasing in many areas.

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s U.S. Open,” he wrote in a thread, posted in both English and Spanish. “The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.”

After thanking the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), the U.S. Open organizers and the Association of Tennis Professionals “for trying to put the event together,” Nadal concluded, “This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

Nadal currently holds 19 Grand Slam wins, one behind fellow tennis star Roger Federer. Federer is also sitting out the Open this year due to surgeries on his right knee.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and Ashleigh Barty, the current number 1 ranked woman in the world, have both similarly decided to pass on the U.S. Open due to coronavirus concerns.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be traveling to the U.S. for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said in a statement last week, according to ESPN.

"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position,” the statement continued. “I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the U.S. next year.”

The U.S. Open is set to begin on August 31 at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York, though no fans will be allowed in the stands.

In a statement shared last week, the USTA addressed the health concerns surrounding the event, writing that “New York State continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the COVID-19 virus."

Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Bianca Andreescu — the defending U.S. Open women’s singles champion — are all among the players that have indicated they will be playing in the tournament, though players can opt out anytime before the start of play.

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