WTA No. 2 Simona Halep will not be rushed into deciding whether to play the US Open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Romanian set to make her decision at the last possible moment.

The Grand Slam is due to start on August 31 but is losing players daily through pullouts due to the out-of-control virus situation in the US, the world’s disease hotspot with more than 5 million cases and 163,000 deaths.

So far, No. 1 Ash Barty and the Top 10 pair of Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens have withdrawn along with double Grand Slam champion and former New York titleholder Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Halep makes no apologies for her reticence to risk her health in the tennis “wild West.”

“I haven’t made a decision about the US Open yet. I will make a choice after the Prague tournament,” the current Wimbledon champion said.

“The situation is complicated and I am not yet 100 per cent sure of what I will do.”

Halep said she has spent a somewhat stressful lockdown since tennis was halted in March, with the Tour resuming only last week for women in Palermo.

“It was shocking for me to see that everything was blocked. I’m used to always being on the go and suddenly I had to stay at home every day and live a normal life,” Halep said.

I didn’t want to accept it at first. I was worried, I admit. I asked people how to behave and they told me that if I took the right precautions neither I nor those around me would get sick. 

“So I did and so I’m still doing it. But the world is still difficult. The repercussions on the economy will be very serious and many people will be in difficulty. We need to have patience and hope.”

Halep is top among Europeans who do not feel comfortable travelling to the US given the current anything-goes social situation, with US society apparently split into mask and anti-mask tribes.

She is top seed this week in Prague, a revived WTA event much closer to home

“Honestly, I don’t know how to manage the return to the court,” she said in the run-up.”I have the experience to deal with this problem.

“If I stay relaxed and do my best in every game I will soon find my best form. But I’m also sure the start won’t be easy for me because I need matches to find the rhythm. “


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