Defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal will not participate in the 2020 event due to COVID-19 concerns, the Spaniard confirmed on Tuesday.

After months of speculation, the world number two confirmed his withdrawal on Twitter.

“After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year’s US Open.,” Nadal tweeted. “The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it.”

“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

Nadal also withdrew from the Western and Southern Open, which is supposed to take place the week before the US Open at the same venue.

The withdrawal comes as little surprise, as Nadal has been openly skeptical about the safety of playing in the United States throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nadal will not lose his 2000 ranking points for 2019, as the ATP is allowing players to keep points from last year’s events due to the COVID chaos.

In his tweet, Nadal also referred to the season’s calendar with four months off as “barbaric.”

Throughout his career, the 19-time Grand Slam singles champion has been openly critical of the ATP calendar. He has also called for the entire 2020 season to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is now unclear whether Nadal will play at all again in 2020.

He was originally committed to play the Mutua Madrid Open, but the Masters 1000 event was cancelled earlier on Tuesday due to rising case numbers in Madrid.

The next event on the schedule in Europe is the Internazionali BNL D’Italia in Rome, which is slated to being Sep. 9.

Nadal has been training on clay for several weeks, posting regular practice pictures and videos on social media. However, his status for Rome in unconfirmed.

He is also the defending champion at the French Open, which is scheduled to being on Sep. 27.

The US Open released its full entry list on Tuesday. Nadal is not mentioned in the article on the tournament site. However, the absence of world number four Roger Federer, which was announced months ago due to injury, is referenced.

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