Palermo Open "embittered" after Halep pulls out due to travel concerns

Palermo Open "embittered" after Halep pulls out due to travel concerns

The world No. 2 also pointed to a rise in Romania's COVID-19 cases as part of her decision. Tournament director Oliviero Palma said, "We found out Halep’s decision with great bitterness. Yesterday we were optimistic."

The Palermo Open is set to reopen the WTA tour in eight days but will be without its top attraction.

World No. 2 Simona Halep pulled out Sunday, citing a pair of coronavirus-related concerns.

“Given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and my anxieties around international air travel at this time, I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Palermo,” she tweeted. “I want to thank the tournament director and the Italian ministry of health for all efforts on my behalf.”

On Friday, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an order requiring anyone who traveled within Romania or Bulgaria the past 14 days to quarantine upon their arrival. Players competing in Palermo are exempt from the safety measure, according to the International event. Tournament director Oliviero Palma expressed his frustration over Halep’s withdrawal in a statement, later shared in a series of tweets.

“We found out Halep’s decision with great bitterness. Yesterday we were optimistic, and we had informed Halep’s staff about the fact that professional players are not obliged to quarantine,” said Palma. “We are embittered and profoundly disappointed.”

The tournament hopes to welcome third-ranked Karolina Pliskova, with the Czech expected to decide by Tuesday on her participation. Halep, who triumphed in Dubai before the coronavirus shut down the WTA tour in early March, is entered to play the Prague Open the following week.