The US Open is scheduled to begin in late August and run until September 12 despite COVID-19 cases continuing to surge in the country past the grim figure of 160,000 deaths – with host city New York previously being one of the worst affected regions in the country – convincing the 29-year-old to join the likes of Rafael Nadal and women’s world number one Ash Barty in withdrawing from the tournament. 

I’ve been thinking a lot and decided not to play (the) U.S. Open this year,” Pavlyuchenkova said Wednesday.

It wasn’t easy because I hadn’t missed any Grand Slam in my entire career. Tennis is almost everything for me.”

Pavlyuchenkova’s name is added to a growing exodus of sportspeople of numerous disciplines announcing that they are to restrict their athletic activities until a time when they are more convinced that their health will not be at risk. 

Several players within the NFL, for example, have forgone millions of dollars of their annual salary by opting to sit out of the upcoming season. The resumption of the Major League Baseball season has also been beset by a large number of positive coronavirus tests – with the sport’s governing body opting to not proceed with the ‘quarantine bubble’ approach undertaken in the NBA, to name one. 

And as Pavlyuchenkova explained further, it is the lack of a concerted plan being in place to guarantee her and her fellow players’ safety that led to her decision. 

The main reason is insecurity, (the) US Open doesn’t provide any guarantees. I don’t feel comfortable to travel to USA in such circumstances,” she said. 

From this moment, every player is on his own. My team and I have decided it would be for the best not to participate.”

The world’s number one ranked men’s player, Novak Djokovic, will be the headline act in the male category (particularly so given Nadal’s absence). The Serb came under fire earlier this year for his controversial Adria Tour event in which several players – including Djokovic himself – contracted the potentially deadly virus. 

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