Boris Becker says some women ‘selfish’ for skipping US Open, but ‘excludes Rafael Nadal from criticism’

Boris Becker through a lens

Boris Becker says some of the top women “have reacted a little bit selfishly” by deciding not to play at the US Open, but he “excludes Rafael Nadal from criticism”.

Six of the WTA Tour’s top 10 players won’t feature at Flushing Meadows this week as world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, world No 2 Simona Halep, defending champion Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic withdrew from the tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And former world No 1 Becker is not impressed and he hopes “they will come to regret it”.

“I have to say I am surprised and disappointed that six out of the top 10 women are not going to be there, and I hope they will come to regret it,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column. “In five years I do not believe people will look back on this Grand Slam and say ‘well, not everyone was playing’ – I do not go along with this idea of an asterisk being alongside the 2020 Open in the history books.

“In time this will be recalled as one of the hardest events to win because of everything that was going on around it and the conditions it was played in. It is going to be huge for whoever wins the titles.

“I am sorry that so many of the top women are not in New York. I am the first to appreciate how much they bring to these tournaments and think they should be paid the same as the men, but some of them have reacted a little bit selfishly.

“No individual is bigger than the sport and we are talking about fighting for the future of the game, about saving a lot of jobs that depend on these tournaments going ahead. The US Tennis Association were between a rock and a hard place, and appear to have done a good job in creating the bubble and getting this on.

“Obviously there is no room for complacency but I am sure they have made every effort to make the environment as safe as possible.”

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On the ATP side, defending champion Rafael Nadal also decided to stay in Europe while former champion Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios were among the high-profile players to withdraw.

Becker, though, says 19-time Grand Slam winner Nadal “has done a lot for the game” and is within his right to focus on the French Open.

“Some of the men are missing too, but I would exclude Rafael Nadal from criticism,” he wrote. “He has done so much for the game and it is obvious that he wants to prepare for the postponed French Open – which has been shifted to a late September start – and give himself the best chance of winning a 20th Grand Slam. Given his age of 34, the problems he has had with his knees and ankles, plus the change of surface, then it makes sense for him to sit this one out and get ready for Paris.

“It is a shame that the likes of Nick Kyrgios are not here either but I always expected him to cancel as I doubt he really loves the game.

“For those that do, this is a great chance to win a very different and historic major. I applaud them for making the journey and will not be underestimating the achievement of those who end up doing well.”

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