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Halep undecided on US Open but fears ‘tough conditions’

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep said Sunday she had not yet decided whether to play at the US Open but added she dreaded “tough conditions” posed by the journey.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” said the 28-year-old Romanian, who will be playing a WTA tournament on a clay court in Prague next week.

“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.

“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

World number one Ashleigh Barty has said she is skipping the US Open amid the virus spread, just like Kiki Bertens, Elina Svitolina or Rafael Nadal.

Halep, who pulled out of the first post-lockdown WTA tournament in Palermo this week over virus concerns, is now in Prague as the top seed.

This is her first trip abroad since February as she spent the lockdown in her native Romania.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” said Halep.

The organisers of the Prague tournament put all players and staff in a single eight-storey hotel booked for the occasion to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contagion.

Regular temperature checks are a must, just like face masks which the players have to wear unless they are playing, training or eating.

Despite the tough measures, Halep relished the return to tennis.

“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy,” said Halep.

“It’s a bit weird after so many months to play a tournament, I’m a bit nervous… but I feel ready,” added Halep, who is facing Slovenian world number 45 Polona Hercog in the first round in the Czech capital.

Untypically, Halep has also signed up for the doubles competition together with local veteran Barbora Strycova, the world number two for doubles.

“I play with the Wimbledon champion so I’m very nervous about that,” said Halep, who is now 149th in doubles, way below her all-time high of 71st in 2017.

“But I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.”

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