Aug 31, 2020 - Sports

Many of the world's top tennis players are skipping this year's U.S. Open

Table: Axios Visuals
Table: Axios Visuals

New York's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was transformed into a field hospital for coronavirus overflow in April. Today, it welcomes the 128 participants of the 140th U.S. Open.

Yes, but: It won't welcome any of the 30,000 daily fans it normally draws, with strict safety protocols barring entry for any non-essential personnel.

The bubble: The venue was turned into a bubble for the recently concluded Western & Southern Open, and will operate similarly for the U.S. Open.

  • Players must stay in one of two nearby hotels — or a private home vetted by the USTA — and they're not allowed to go anywhere except the venue.
  • Testing is done every four days, but only after returning two negatives in the first 48 hours after arrival. (Frenchman Benoît Paire, the No. 17 seed, tested positive on Sunday and has been replaced by an alternate.)

The field: With so many top players opting out for health reasons amid the pandemic, the field is wide open. Well, at least on the women's side.

  • Women: Six of the top 10 players are out, and No. 7 seed Naomi Osaka is dealing with a hamstring injury that caused her to withdraw from the Western & Southern finals on Saturday.
  • Men: With his Western & Southern Open title, No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic improved to 23-0 in 2020. He's the heavy favorite with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both opting out.
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