Women’s defending champion Bianca Andreescu joined Rafael Nadal on the sidelines of the US Open, with the Grand Slam now set to go ahead without either of its 2019 champions.

The 20-year-old Canadian who defeated Serena Williams in straight sets last September but has not played since last October due to injury, blamed fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic for her pull.

“After many discussions with those closest to me, I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year,” she posted on Twitter Thursday.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and to ensure that i return ready to pay at my highest level.”

Andreescu, ranked sixth on the WTA, called her surprise title “the highlight of my career thus far and I will miss not being there.”

She added: “However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.

“I look forward to joining my competitors back on court soon.”    

Nadal withdrew several weeks ago, with the Spaniard preferring not to travel to the virus-plagued US, even with the Open set to be held inside a “health bubble” with players restricted to their hotel and the tennis venue.

Andreescu’s decision came only hours after men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic ended weeks of suspense by announcing that he had decided to make the trip to New York to pursue an 18th Grand Slam title.

Main photo:- Bianca Andreescu with US Open Trophy 2019 Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

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