Wimbledon champ Simona Halep skipping US Open due to virus

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FILE – In this June 9, 2018, file photo, Romania’s Simona Halep clenches her fist after defeating Sloane Stephens of the United States during the women’s singles final of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wimbledon champion Simona Halep will skip the U.S. Open, saying Monday she is putting her health first and prefers to stay in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Halep, a former top-ranked player who is currently No. 2, won the title in Prague on Sunday.

“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 (at)usopen,” Halep wrote on Twitter. “I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe.”

Six of the top eight women in the WTA rankings won’t play in New York. No. 1 Ash Barty and defending champion Bianca Andreescu have also withdrawn.

Other women who won’t be playing include No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Kiki Bertens and No. 8 Belinda Bencic.

The U.S. Open is scheduled to start at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 31.

Halep lauded the U.S. Tennis Association and WTA for having “worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament.”

Irina Khromacheva of Russia will replace Halep in the main draw, according to the USTA.

Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh and Australia’s Priscilla Hon also have withdrawn. That moves American Usue Arconada and Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine into the main draw, and Allie Kiick of the U.S. receives the wild card previously awarded to Arconada.

Rafael Nadal, the men’s defending champion, has also withdrawn from the tournament, but top-ranked Novak Djokovic has said he will play. Roger Federer is out for the rest of the season after two operations on his right knee.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, is also out, along with Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios.

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