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World No 2 Simona Halep to make US Open decision on Monday

World No 2 Simona Halep says she will make a decision on whether to play the US Open on Monday, with five of the world’s top 10 already out of the competition.

Simona Halep Simona Halep

Halep has long expressed doubts about whether she will play in the hardcourt Grand Slam because of fears over the Covid-19 situation in the country and on Sunday, moments after winning the Prague Open on clay for her 21st career title, she said she would make her announcement within 24 hours.

“Monday,” she said, “I will have it (the decision) then. Now is too fast (after the match) to take a decision. Now I just want to enjoy this victory; then I will think about the US Open.”

Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill, told Wide World of Sports in Australia on Sunday that “his gut feeling” was that Halep is not feeling comfortable with the idea, but that things could yet change.

Five of the WTA Tour top 10 have already pulled out of the US Open, which begins at Flushing Meadows on August 31, behind closed doors. World No 8 Belinda Benci became the fifth to withdraw on Saturday.

World No 1 Ash Barty, No 5 Elina Svitolina, defending champion Bianca Andreescu and No 7 Kiki Bertens had already confirmed they would not be playing.

Barty and Svitolina pulled out because of fears over player safety amid the Coronavirus pandemic while Andreescu is injured and Bertens is focusing on clay in preparation for next month’s French Open, which begins on September 27.

Rafael Nadal (fears over the virus) and Roger Federer (injury) will miss the men’s event but world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who contracted the virus during the ill-fated Adria Tour, which he helped to organise, has confirmed his participation.

With the Cincinnati event having moved to New York to be on the same site as the US Open, players will be able to stay in one place for three weeks, making it easier for organisers to try to avoid any outbreaks of the virus.

The US Open said Austria’s Barbara Haas will replace Bencic in the draw for the event, which begins on August 31.

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