AFP, Sydney : World number one Ashleigh Barty pulled out of the US Open Thursday over fears about the coronavirus pandemic in a major blow for the Grand Slam, which is scheduled to start in New York on August 31. The Australian is the biggest name so far to withdraw from the tournament, with her decision coming as the United States marked a grim milestone when its Covid-19 deaths topped 150,000. "My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," she said in a statement to Australian media. "I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position. "I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year," she added. Her decision came despite the New York area keeping coronavirus cases at a relatively low level since spiking in March and April while areas such as Florida, Texas and California have become hotspots. It was not unexpected, with the 24-year-old last month expressing concerns about the US Open going ahead, and she won plenty of support Thursday on social media for her "sensible" decision to give it a miss.
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