File photo taken on July 25, 2020 Swiss player Belinda Bencic (WTA 8) returns a ball to compatriot Jil Teichmann (WTA 63) during the Swiss Tennis Pro Cup exhibition tournament in Biel. AFP
Eighth-ranked Belinda Bencic, whose deepest Grand Slam run was into last year's US Open semi-finals, said Saturday she will skip this year's US Open and return in Rome next month.
The 23-year-old Swiss joins a host of top players who are passing on playing at Flushing Meadows when the next Grand Slam tournament begins on August 31.
"I have made the difficult decision to skip the US swing in New York and will return to the tour starting next month in Rome," Bencic said in a statement.
"I am looking forward to returning to New York next year and wish everyone competing there in the coming weeks the best of luck."
Reigning US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who ousted Bencic in last year's US Open semi-finals, said Thursday she will not play in New York, joining men's 2019 winner Rafael Nadal in skipping the tournament.
Also absent from this year's US Open will be Australia's top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, Ukraine's fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina, seventh-rated Kiki Bertens and past winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
Serena Williams, seeking a 24th career Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court's all-time record, will compete at the US Open, as will men's world number one Novak Djokovic.
New York was one of the hardest-hit US cities when COVID-19 first spiked in March and April, a temporary hospital even being established on indoor courts at the US Tennis Center.
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