Partly due to the cancellations of defending champion Rafael Nadal and world ranking leader Ashleigh Barty, the US Open seems to be a devalued Grand Slam tournament this year. However, many tennis players will soon plan to travel to New York. "This state exposes how complicated the tennis tour is."

The rumors had been going on for a while, but on Tuesday evening it became a fait accompli: Nadal, the number two in the world and four-time winner of the US Open, refuses to travel to the United States this month because of the corona pandemic.

The 34-year-old Spaniard thus follows the example of the Australian Barty, the number one among the women, and her compatriot Nick Kyrgios. The men's list also includes the names of, among others, Stan Wawrinka and Fabio Fognini, although they have not yet officially signed off.

"Everyone looks a little bit at each other when it comes to participating in the US Open. This could just be the start of many more cancellations and you might wonder if the tournament will be Grand Slam-worthy," said former tennis star. and commentator Kristie Boogert in conversation with on Wednesday.

"The winners can be said later: nice to hear that title, but those and those were not there. If I still played tennis, I would also tend not to go. There is a lot of uncertainty about traveling and if if you break a rule there, you will get a mega fine. It is good that everything is done to organize tournaments, but the tricky part is that tennis is such an international sport. "

Sjeng Schalken, a semi-finalist at the US Open in 2002, sees that financial interests dominate. "The television money is very important and therefore everything is done to let the Grand Slams go through. But these cancellations of course cause a serious devaluation of the tournament, which can also be a reason to cancel it. A title will have a lot less shine anyway. "

An image that we will not see this year: Rafael Nadal with the trophy of the US Open. (Photo: Pro Shots)

"Djokovic wants to take the Grand Slam record at all costs"

The cancellation of Nadal is a big boost for Novak Djokovic, the only player of 'The Big Three' who makes an appearance at Flushing Meadows. Roger Federer needs the rest of 2020 to recover from knee surgery, putting the fight for the prestigious Grand Slam record in a different light.

Federer is still record holder with twenty Grand Slam titles, but Nadal could have equaled the Swiss at the US Open (August 31-September 12). Djokovic is a bacon buyer and can get eighteen Grand Slam titles at a successful tournament in New York. Then he has one less than Nadal.

"I can imagine that the battle for the Grand Slam record is not the most important thing for Nadal at the moment, but it's different for Djokovic. He wants to participate in the US Open at all costs to get closer to that record", Boogert, 46, outlines the different opinions among the top players.

"It also depends on which country you come from. Nadal's Spain has been severely affected by the virus, while they deal with it very differently in Serbia. And what will also play a role for Djokovic: the history books are all about the titles and there is nothing about a less strong field of participants. "

Despite the criticism, Schalken, 43, does understand tennis players who travel to New York for the US Open. "In fact, due to the corona crisis, players are put on non-active, because they receive no income from prize money. I am very happy that I have not experienced such a period during my career. And Djokovic is not very concerned about the field, for him, a title is just a title. "

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer compete for the Grand Slam record in the fall of their careers. (Photo: Getty Images)

Divisions also among organizations

During the corona crisis, not only the division among tennis players, but also among the various organizations became clear. Instead of one institution that regulates everything and stands up for all tennis players in the world, there are several unions that also have their own interests.

"This has been a problem for a long time, but this condition makes it even clearer how complicated the tennis tour actually is. For example, many people do not know that it is not the ATP and the WTA, but the ITF that organizes the Grand Slam tournaments," said Boogert, the former number 29 of the world.

"There are many other things - such as the huge difference in prize money between men and women - that could be much better. The unions have recently been seeking some rapprochement. After all the bad things that the corona crisis has brought, it is very nice if this period ensures that the organizations start working together. "

See also: Bertens will decide on participation in the US Open no later than Monday