NEW YORK: World No 2 Simona Halep is "highly unlikely" to play in the US Open with organisers set to put strict health protocols in place for the Grand Slam due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokeswoman for the Romanian informed the media.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) received the green light to hold their marquee tournament in New York as scheduled from August 31-September 13 without fans.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the USTA would take "extraordinary precautions" to protect players, including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated accommodation.
"Everyone is still waiting on an official announcement of details from the US Open and tours about the season," the spokeswoman said.
"But if the conditions are as set out on paper for US Open, as Simo (Halep) has been consistent in saying, it's highly unlikely she will play." The USTA and men's and women's tours are expected to provide details later on Wednesday.
"Of course, the conditions of the US Open can still change and it is my understanding that the players will have well into July to decide whether to enter or not," the spokeswoman said, adding that it was a "fluid situation so nothing is set in stone".
Men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his women's counterpart Ash Barty have also raised concerns about playing in the tournament under health protocols while Nick Kyrgios said the USTA was being "selfish" by opting to go ahead with it.
Reports in US media and tennis publications say the USTA had decided to eliminate qualifying, halve the doubles draw to 32 pairings and drop the mixed doubles tournament altogether.
Canadian doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski said many players were uncomfortable about travelling to the United States due to the coronavirus situation and were concerned about having to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests at the event.
Others had expressed disappointment they would be unable to compete because of the streamlined tournament, she added.
"Not having a qualifying and a smaller doubles draw increase the lack of parity in tennis," said Dabrowski. "For me, a slam isn't a slam without qualifying, doubles, and mixed doubles.
"It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when so many players are against this event moving forward, and yet it is moving forward anyway. Something just doesn't feel right here." (Agencies).