If the 2020 US Open does happen this year at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, it could be without all three of the sport’s biggest names on the men’s side of the bracket.
Early Wednesday morning, Swiss tennis star and five-time US Open winner Roger Federer announced that he will miss the remainder of the 2020 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery while rehabbing a knee injury.
“I plan to take the necessary time to be 100% ready to play at my highest level,” Federer wrote. “I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but, I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season.”
The 39-year-old’s absence will be a sizable one in Queens this year. Federer owns the men’s tennis record of winning 20 major tournaments (US Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open) and one of the most recognizable sports stars on the planet.
His announcement comes just days after Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — the only other two tennis players on the planet who currently rival Federer’s fame and success — voiced their concerns about playing in the US Open this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV (h/t ESPN). “We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.”
“Also, we could bring one person to the club, which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”
For Nadal, his concerns seemed to hover around the fact that New York City was the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States — a daunting destination despite improving numbers and the city’s recent Phase 1 reopening.
“For me, [it] is very difficult to separate the status that the world is living from my real perspective on the world of tennis, no?” Nadal told reporters on a Zoom call. “We need to be responsible. We need to be sure that the situation is safe enough. And then of course try to come back to our tour when the things are clear.”
It remains to be seen if the US Open will actually happen in 2020.
In April, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that a decision on the tournament’s status would be announced in mid-June, meaning a decision is expected within the week.
If it is given the green light, the tournament is expected to run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Pro tennis’ schedule has already taken some sizable hits this year as Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since World War II and the French Open — normally running from late-May to early-June — was rescheduled to Sept. 20.