‘I prefer to stay in Europe’ – US Open suffer another major withdrawal to leave women’s draw in tatters
The women’s draw for the US Open has suffered another major blow with would-be top seed Simona Halep announcing she will not participate.
Halep, the world number two, was the highest ranked women in the field after Ashleigh Barty’s early withdrawal.
However, her refusal to play on safety grounds now means that six of the top eight women in the world will be absent at Flushing Meadows.
As well as Barty and Halep, defending champion Bianca Andreescu is out, as are Kiki Bertens, Elina Svitolina, and Belinda Bencic.
The news will come as a boost to Serena Williams, though, who is not set to be elevated to third seed despite languishing down at number nine in the world rankings.
“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 US Open,” Halep tweeted.
“I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe.
“I know the USTA and WTA have worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament.”
World number three Karolina Pliskova will now be the top seed at the US Open, with Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin second and Williams third.
Naomi Osaka also benefits by moving up to fourth seed in the draw.
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