Organisers of the US Open have insisted they are happy with the line-up for this year’s tournament, despite a raft of high-profile withdrawals from the Grand Slam because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
United States Tennis Association (USTA) chief executive Mike Dowse claimed the number of participants at the event in New York City, which begins on August 31, had “exceeded our expectations”.
A number of the top tennis players in the world, including defending champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, are among those to have opted out of the event due to fears over the COVID-19 virus.
Wimbledon champion and world number two Simona Halep became the latest to confirm she was skipping the tournament at Flushing Meadows earlier this week.
It means six of the top 10 women’s players will be absent from the event.
Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, is the only one of last year’s women’s semi-finalists to enter this year’s competition.
Williams and men’s world number one Novak Djokovic are among those to have confirmed their participation.
Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina have also withdrawn, while Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, Australian Nick Kyrgios and Gaël Monfils are among the high-profile men’s players who will not be in action.
“As far as our field, in context of the times and how different the world is, I couldn’t be happier,” Dowse said.
“It’s exceeded our expectations.
“At the end of the day it’s our fans we are here to serve.
“They’re going to see some unbelievable world class tennis.”The US Open, traditionally the last Grand Slam of the year, will be played without spectators and with safety measures in place, some of which have been criticised by the likes of Djokovic.
Players competing at the US Open have to enter a “bio-secure bubble”, including mandatory tests before being allowed into the Flushing Meadows site.
US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster said 90 per cent of players had arrived in New York City and the majority would be staying in two hotels as part of the “bubble”.
The US is the worst-hit country by COVID-19 in the world, recording more than 5.5 million cases and at least 173,000 deaths, but New York is thought to have largely brought the virus under control.