The US Open is taking place as scheduled, starting on August 31, and with a whole host of precautions to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and players having withdrawn.
The initial entry list has now been revealed - but that does not necessarily mean that everybody on it will be in New York at the end of the month with some players likely to attend and others not.
The US Department of Homeland Security has granted athlete waivers to players and support personnel, meaning that non-US nationals can enter the country regardless of their home country and previous travel movements - but it is not yet clear whether there will be any quarantine requirement for those entering the US.
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The situation is complicated by the rescheduled French Open taking place immediately after the US Open - with qualification beginning a week after the New York final, and the main draw action starting on Sunday September 27.
It is possible that those travelling from the US back to Europe would be required to self-isolate for a period of up to two weeks as well - meaning that at the current time many will have to choose between the two Slams.
Players confirmed and likely to play
Serena Williams, chasing that elusive 24th Grand Slam title, will play - fitness permitting. She has been in the media spotlight recently as she, husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia were revealed as part-owners of new soccer club Angel City FC.
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Novak Djokovic, after expressing his dissatisfaction with the rules laid down by the US Open, backed down a little, enthusing exclusively to Eurosport: "I think that a lot of people were sceptical, especially for the US events considering what the US went through as a country during this pandemic. So a lot of people, including myself, were quite sceptical on whether it would happen or not. We are very glad that it is happening, of course, and it is very important that we provide opportunities, we provide jobs, we provide opportunities for players to compete."
But now the Serb has gone even further and declared that he is "happy to confirm" that he will participate at Flushing Meadows. "It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited," he said.
Former champion Andy Murray has tested negative for Covid-19 after arrival in the US, and has said all the way along that he intends to play as long as everyone's safety can be guaranteed, writing in his BBC column: "Playing at a behind-closed-doors US Open is something I intend to do - as long as it is safe." The former world number one was confirmed as a wild card for the Western and Southern Open, and the 33-year-old has since been handed a wild card for Flushing Meadows - as has former champion on the women's side Kim Clijsters.
The 2019 men's runner-up Daniil Medvedev is also likely to play - and has been spotted in training and confirmed for the Western and Southern Open.
Of the men's top 10, all are European, but only the injured Roger Federer is not currently down to play the warm-up event. Stefanos Tsitsipas, David Goffin, and Matteo Berrettini are all likely to head to the USA following their Ultimate Tennis Showdown showings in the south of France - although Berrettini for one has gone on the record saying although he would like to play in the USA his health is his priority and he will make a decision nearer the time. Dominic Thiem has already been snapped en route to the USA - albeit maskless in an airport.
The same conclusions could be drawn from looking at the WTA entry list for the Western and Southern Open. As well as Serena, top 10 players Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin are down to play the event, along with two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza and Naomi Osaka, who took a wildcard into the event.
British number one Johanna Konta has withdrawn from the clay-court Ladies Open Palermo and entered the Top Seed Open in Lexington followed by the Western and Southern Open. She took part in the second instalment of Jamie Murray's Battle of the Brits tournament, which suggests she may now be concentrating on hard-court practice and leaving the clay season aside for this year.
Since the New York "bubble" opened, many players have arrived and received their negative Covid-19 tests, including two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and American teenage sensation Coco Gauff.
US Open withdrawals and not likely to play
Defending men's champion Rafael Nadal has ruled himself out of playing in New York with a heartfelt thread of tweets, describing the schedule for the remainder of the year as "barbaric".
Roger Federer is still recovering from injury and will not play again this year, while another former French Open champion, Stan Wawrinka, is not on the US Open entry list and has been seen practising on clay, suggesting he will focus on the French Open.
Defending women's champion Bianca Andreescu has confirmed she will not be there following almost a year of struggling with injury. She was on the US Open entry list, but was not registered to play the Western and Southern Open or any other warm-up event. However, the Canadian has previously expressed cautiously positive views about playing in New York, writing on Twitter in June: "I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to insure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020," adding: "I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on the court."
Women's world number one Ashleigh Barty has ruled herself out of the running, citing the "significant risks" posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. She says a decision about the French Open will be made in due course. However, with Australia's strict quarantine regulations, it could be that she chooses to skip both Grand Slams and the travel involved, directing her efforts towards the New Year and the Australian Open instead.
Melbourne tournament director and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley certainly hinted at that in an interview when he said: "All of them I've spoken to – there's not one that hasn't – are looking to the beginning of 2021 and the beginning of the new season as the new hope for tennis globally. I personally think that some of the top players will be in doubt [for the rest of 2020] and that's simply because they may feel it's too soon. It's nothing against the US Open."
It seems massively unlikely that Tiley would not have spoken to Australia's biggest sporting star as he gauged the tennis community's plans for the rest of the year.
It looks like he may have spoken to Nick Kyrgios too - the men's world number 40 has said he will not be in New York either.
He added: "It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport's greatest arenas, Arthur Ashe Stadium."
Reigning Wimbledon champion and world number two Simona Halep will not play.
She tweeted to say: "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. 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.”
The Romanian is very cautious when it comes to travel - having opted not to play in the 2016 Rio Olympics due to the risk of the zika virus.
Her coach Darren Cahill responded to the US Open's proposed rules by saying: "The restrictions are tough. They're incredibly difficult, and every player will have their own opinion as to whether that will work for them. I'm pretty sure that won't work for Simona."
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Halep confirmed her intent to participate in the WTA tour events in Europe throughout August, with other entrants including former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (who will play in Palermo from August 3) and one-time Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard. It seems more than likely that they will stay in Europe ready for the French Open rather than cross the Atlantic again. Ostapenko was initially on the US Open entry list but has since confirmed her withdrawal, while Bouchard would need to go through qualifying in New York as she is not ranked high enough to get a place in the main draw entry list.
Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands has said she will not be going to the USA for any events this year, according to her own government's advice about entering two weeks of quarantine on return. She has previously had great success on clay so not risking the French Open makes sense.
The Ukraine's Elina Svitolina has confirmed she will not be playing.
She has been playing exhibition events in Europe - and also taken the time to talk to the French Open's official website about how much she misses the tournament, suggesting it is uppermost in her mind at the moment. She was on the US Open initial entry list - but her partner Gael Monfils is not.
World number eight Belinda Bencic has confirmed that she has withdrawn.
Bencic had previously entered the Western and Southern Open and was originally on the entry list for Flushing Meadows, but had also gone on the record saying that she was going to leave any firm decision until much nearer the time as she thought it was possibly too soon for such a big event.
Katie Boulter has also said she will not be at the US Open, saying: "I haven’t put an entry in. I am very cautious as there is a pandemic going on. I don’t think it’s the right time."
China's number one Wang Qiang has withdrawn from the Western and Southern Open as well as the US Open, citing travel restrictions and safety concerns, as has recent Ultimate Tennis Showdown champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
TOP 10 AT A GLANCE - WILL THEY PLAY THE US OPEN?
- 1. Novak Djokovic - YES
- 2. Rafael Nadal - NO
- 3. Dominic Thiem - PROBABLE
- 4. Roger Federer - NO
- 5. Daniil Medvedev - PROBABLE
- 6. Stefanos Tsitsipas - POSSIBLE
- 7. Alexander Zverev - POSSIBLE
- 8. Matteo Berrettini - POSSIBLE
- 9. Gael Monfils - NO
- 10. David Goffin - POSSIBLE
- 1. Ashleigh Barty - NO
- 2. Simona Halep - NO
- 3. Karolina Pliskova - POSSIBLE
- 4. Sofia Kenin - PROBABLE
- 5. Elina Svitolina - NO
- 6. Bianca Andreescu - NO
- 7. Kiki Bertens - NO
- 8. Belinda Bencic - NO
- 9. Serena Williams - YES
- 10. Naomi Osaka - PROBABLE
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