America angered by Barty’s Open snub
Ash Barty was widely applauded in Australia on Thursday for putting the safety of her team and herself first and withdrawing from this year's US Open.
But her decision to skip the grand slam because of the real health risks posed by travelling to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic wasn't received as well in America.
Prompted by fears the tournament - scheduled to begin on September 1 - is losing its lustre as several top players opt out, fans hit out at the world number one with dismay and derision.
"Who is going to miss her?" "Never heard of her anyway!" They said of the French Open champion who with 8717 WTA ranking points is more than 2600 clear of the next best player in the world.
It was left to America's most experienced tennis writers to answer the noise.
"Surprised - though we shouldn't be - at how many people are taking issue with Ash Barty declining to play the US Open," Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim tweeted. "For the foreseeable future there is an outright ban on second-guessing any player's decision to forgo an event."
"Strange amount of dismissive commentary about Barty's withdrawal from US Open," New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey added. "She's no dominant force yet but let's be clear: Any tennis tournament with Ash Barty in the field is a better tennis tournament."
"Nothing but respect for Ash Barty's decision to choose not to play the US Open," wrote Nick McCarvel. "We are living in a new reality. Doesn't matter if you're ranked No. 1 or 100, if you're not confident in travelling and going out in the world, you get to make that choice not to. Stay well Ash."
Barty announced her withdrawal on Thursday in typically classy fashion.
"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," Barty said.
"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
"I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year."
The 140th edition of the US Open was postponed due to COVID-19 and is now scheduled for August 31st to September 13th.
Men's great Andy Murray said he expects more players to follow Barty's lead but believes it will be safe inside the bubble being created for the tournament.
"The Ash Barty withdrawal, I think we will see it quite a bit," Murray said. "I have heard some of the top male players aren't going to play. I would expect that would be the case.
"It's everyone's personal decision. If they don't feel safe, and don't feel comfortable, traveling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it's completely understandable.
"All of the players will have some reservations and it's whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk. My feeling is once we are inside that bubble they created, we will be OK. It's more the international travel, and getting there which I will be a bit concerned about it."
Barty is still expected to defend her French Open title at Roland Garros, which will commence on September 27th.
Originally published as America angered by Barty's Open snub