Novak Djokovic is travelling to the USA to play the Western & Southern Open and the US Open. World no….
Novak Djokovic is travelling to the USA to play the Western & Southern Open and the US Open.
Djokovic will arrive in New York on Saturday 15 August.
‘I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Cincinnati and US Open this year,’ a statement on Djokovic’s website read.
‘It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.’
The news that Djokovic intends to compete will come as a huge relief to the USTA, organizers of the US Open and orchestrators of the decision to move the Western & Southern Open from its traditional home in Cincinnati to New York.
I’m happy to confirm that I‘ll participate at #CincyTennis and #USOpen this year. It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited ??? https://t.co/qgxSTHrKK4 pic.twitter.com/tg6rgwfFqm
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) August 13, 2020
A series of high-profile players on both the men’s and women’s sides have pulled out of the US Open. Defending champion Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal last week, and Roger Federer has declared himself out for the year since July. World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty declined to travel from Australia, as did Nick Kyrgios; top-10 WTA players Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens followed suit. Svitolina’s boyfriend, world no. 9 Gael Monfils, is also out, as is Fabio Fognini and Stan Wawrinka, who will play clay-court Challengers for the first time in a tournament instead.
Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters, both former champions, have accepted wildcards. But having the world no. 1 leading the men’s field, and a three-time former champion who is currently in the hunt to become the all-time men’s Grand Slam title leader, will be a massive boost to a US Open which is in danger of being considered ‘asterixed’.
‘I am aware that this time around it will be very different with all the protocols and safety measures that are put in place to protect players and people of NY. Nevertheless, I have trained hard with my team and got my body in shape so I am ready to adapt to new conditions
‘I’ve done all the check-ups to make sure I am fully recovered and I am ready to get back on court fully committed to playing my best tennis.’
The Western & Southern Open will be the first ATP Tour tournament played since early March. The WTA Tour has restarted, with Serena Williams and Simona Halep competing this week at tournaments in Lexington and Prague respectively.
Djokovic was on the entry list for the US Open when it was announced in early August, but as subsequent withdrawals proved, that doesn’t mean much – and the world no. 1 had voiced his doubts. In July, he said he wasn’t sure he would play the US Open, citing its proximity to the compressed European clay-court season which was at the time scheduled to begin in Madrid on 13 September, the day of the US Open men’s final (the Madrid Masters has subsequently been cancelled). He had also previously questioned plans to have player entourages limited to one person (that restriction was subsequently lifted).
The tennis hiatus was a turbulent time for Djokovic. He initially drew much praise for his efforts to organize an ATP Relief Fund for lower-ranked players struggling during the tennis shutdown. But he then drew consternation and ire when he reacted negatively on social media to the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine being required for international travel and whose wife shared conspiracy theory content linking coronavirus to 5G. Things got worse for Djokovic when he organized an exhibition series called the Adria Tour during which no social distancing protocols were observed, with a slew of players (including himself) subsequently testing positive for COVID-19.
Djokovic complained of ‘very malicious’ criticism ‘as if it were a witch hunt’ in the aftermath of the Adria Tour fiasco, but has been fairly quiet since. The news that he will indeed travel to the USA will boost the spirits of those eager to see him getting back to what he does next.
In addition to leading the singles field at the Western & Southern Open, which he won in 2018 to complete the career Masters Slam, Djokovic will play doubles there with compatriot Filip Krajinovic.
The Western & Southern Open takes place from 22-28 August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, followed by the US Open from 31 August-13 September.
‘I respect and appreciate everyone taking time, effort, and energy to organize these two events for the tennis players to be able to go back to their working field.
‘Unfortunately for the players and the game itself, the current situation is not allowing everyone to travel and compete at the same level of risk, and I hope the situation will change soon and we will be back to doing what we love and do best.’