With more top-ranked players dropping out of the tournament, bettors are finding limited options for wagering on the US Open at sportsbooks as oddsmakers scramble to reshuffle their futures markets.
Women’s World No. 2 Simona Halep became the most recent notable competitor to drop out, announcing her decision on Monday.
Halep Joins Long List of US Open Withdrawals
Halep, who won a tournament in Prague on Sunday, took to Twitter to explain her decision not to travel for the Grand Slam event.
“After weighing up all the factors involved, and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the @usopen,” Halep tweeted. “I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision, and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe.”
Halep expressed confidence that the USTA and WTA will put on a safe, quality US Open despite her decision.
After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the @usopen
I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) August 17, 2020
Six of the top eight women in the world have now chosen not to play at Flushing Meadows this summer. That group includes Halep, world No. 1 Ash Barty, defending US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, and Belinda Bencic.
The men’s draw has also lost a number of top competitors. Defending US Open winner Rafael Nadal decided not to play, while Roger Federer will miss the rest of the season following surgery on his right knee. Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, and Gael Monfils are among the other men who have chosen not to participate.
Organizers ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ with Field
Some stars are still playing at the US Open, including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray. And despite the number of players who are opting out, organizers say they’re happy with the response they’ve seen.
“As far as our field, in context of the times and how different the world is, I couldn’t be happier,” USTA chief executive Mike Dowse said, via Yahoo Sports. “At the end of the day, it’s our fans we are here to serve. They’re going to see some unbelievable world-class tennis.”
But the rash of exits has made life difficult for sportsbooks that want to offer futures odds on the US Open. Virtually all oddsmakers have taken the tournament off the board, at least for the time being. Djokovic should enter as the favorite on the men’s side, while Williams will battle with Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, and Petra Kvitova among others as the top choices in the women’s draw.
One reason sportsbooks may be hesitant to post futures odds: there’s still the chance for players to drop out or for conditions to change at the US Open. On Tuesday, the USTA announced that one individual with access to the National Tennis Center – the venue that will host both the Western and Southern Open starting Saturday, and then the US Open – tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Kei Nishikori confirmed that he’s tested positive for COVID-19. He withdrew from the Western and Southern Open, but still hopes to play in the US Open beginning on Aug. 31.
“I am feeling well and have very little symptoms, but will obviously be in complete isolation for the safety of everyone,” Nishikori said on Sunday.