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Bencic latest to withdraw from U.S. Open

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Tipsport Elite Trophy tennis tournament - I. Czech Lawn Tennis Club, Prague, Czech Republic - July 19, 2020 Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates during her match against Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova REUTERS/David W Cerny

(Reuters) - World number eight Belinda Bencic has withdrawn from this year’s U.S. Open, joining a growing list of players who have decided to skip the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bencic on Saturday announced her decision on Twitter where she also said she would skip the Western & Southern Open which is being held in New York this year instead of Cincinnati as a lead-up to the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 U.S. Open.

“I have made the difficult decision to skip the U.S. swing in New York and will return to the tour starting in Rome next month,” she said.

“I am looking forward to returning to New York next year and wish everyone competing there in the coming weeks the best of luck.”

The Swiss, who reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last year, is the latest top-10 player on the women’s side to skip the major, joining Australian Ash Barty (one), Canadian Bianca Andreescu (six) Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina (five) and Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens (seven).

Her decision means three of last year’s semi-finalists have withdrawn, with Serena Williams the only one of the four set to take part at Flushing Meadows.

The United States Tennis Association has decided to go ahead with the Grand Slam without spectators while players will be asked to follow strict measures, including regular testing, in a bid to avoid spread of the virus.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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