Romanian tennis player Simona Halep has announced that she has decided to opt out of playing in the 2020 US Open Tennis Championships. The world number two is the sixth top-ten player to pull out of the event.

The US Open is scheduled to start on August 31 at its usual venue in Flushing Meadows, New York. The event will be played behind closed doors in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, despite continuous efforts to contain the pandemic, the number of cases of infection continues to rise around the world. Because of this, numerous players have decided not to travel to the event.

"I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision," said Halep.

Before her, defending champion Bianca Andreescu also pulled out of the tournament citing health and safety concerns. World number one Ashleigh Barty also said that she won't be travelling to New York. Earlier this week, other top-ranked players like Belinda Bencic, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have also declared that they won't be participating.

Halep, who had just won the Prague Open last Sunday, has stated that she intends to stay in Europe to train for the French Open. The event has been rescheduled to the end of September, after the original dates were hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

"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," she said, as quoted by the BBC.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams has confirmed that she fully intends to play. Likewise, Serbian star Novak Djokovic has confirmed his participation despite having tested positive for COVID-19 back in June.

Kei Nishikori has also tested positive for COVID-19, just two weeks before the US Open. He has already pulled out of the Cincinnati Open, and will get tested again on Friday. He is currently in good condition and is isolating himself. It remains to be seen if he will recover in time to play in New York.

Wimbledon cancelled due to coronavirus
Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep were Wimbledon singles champions in 2019. Photo: AELTC / Thomas LOVELOCK