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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 18, 2020
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Halep not joining US Open


World number two Simona Halep, who captured the Prague Open title Sunday, joined a growing list of tennis stars when she said yesterday that she would skip the US Open over coronavirus fears.

"After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the @usopen," tweeted Halep, the current Wimbledon champion.

"I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe."

Halep joins a host of top players who are passing on playing at Flushing Meadows when the next Grand Slam tournament begins on August 31.

Reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada will not play, joining men's 2019 winner Rafael Nadal in skipping the tournament.

Also absent from this year's US Open will be Australia's top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, Ukraine's fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina, seventh-rated Kiki Bertens, eighth-ranked Swiss Belinda Bencic -- whom Andreescu beat in the semi-finals last year -- and past winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

Serena Williams, seeking a 24th career Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court's all-time record, will compete, as will men's world number one Novak Djokovic.

Halep won the Prague Open, the second post-lockdown WTA event, after beating Belgium's Elise Mertens in straight sets on Sunday.

She beat the 23rd-ranked Mertens 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 33 minutes.

It was her 21st career WTA title, making her the fifth most successful active player behind Serena and Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Petra Kvitova.

The tournament was played behind closed doors to avoid COVID-19 contagion, and the players had to wear face masks any time they were not playing, training or eating.*AFP


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