Halep stressed by US Open protocols but will decide soon

PRAGUE • World No. 2 Simona Halep will take the final decision on her participation in the US Open after playing this week's WTA Tour event in Prague, the Romanian said on Sunday.

Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty has opted against travelling to New York to play the hard-court Grand Slam amid the coronavirus pandemic, making the 28-year-old the top draw at this year's event.

"I need to get a feeling, I need to see what changes they (the US Open organisers) are gonna make with travelling and stuff," said Halep. "And then I will be able to decide, take the final decision."

Besides Barty, the women's draw has also lost other top-10 players in No. 5 Elina Svitolina and seventh-ranked Kiki Bertens due to their concerns about the pandemic.

The United States has over five million cases of Covid-19 and more than 162,000 people have died.

Concerns remain whether players would face mandatory quarantine if they travel to Europe from the US for clay-court events next month.

The United States Tennis Association is creating a bio-secure 'bubble' with tough protocols to hold the event from Aug 31 without fans.

"I know it's very strict, it's a little bit stressful in my opinion," said Halep. "But they need those rules for the security, the health is most important, they have to take care of everyone. It's tough for everybody to travel these days. But everyone can take their own decision and they know their priority.

"My priority is my health, the mental part and I don't want to stress myself for anything. My final decision, when I take it, will be based on these."

She is the top seed at the Prague Open where she will face Slovenia's Polona Hercog in the opening round.

"This break was not easy and we will struggle a little bit to come back," Halep said, adding that she was happy to have been able to spend some "normal" life at home after the rigours of the Tour for many years.