World number one Novak Djokovic to play at US Open

Novak Djokovic's decision will come as good news for the US Open organisers after several high-profile players pulled out over issues related to COVID-19.

Novak Djokovic

The current World No. 1, Novak Djokovic, has taken a U-turn from his June statements.   -  Reuters

World number one Novak Djokovic issued a statement on Thursday saying he will compete at the U.S. Open and the Western & Southern Open curtain-raiser.

His decision will come as good news for the U.S. Open organisers after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, pulled out over issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

But for the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles it is also a U-turn from his June statements that competing at the 2020 U.S. Open would be “impossible” due to “extreme” COVID-19 protocols for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

“I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open this year,” the 33-year old tennis star said.

“It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on so many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.

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“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 the people of New York.”

Djokovic and three other players contracted the virus at the Serb's Adria Tour event in June, with the first leg being held at his tennis centre in Belgrade and the second in Croatia's coastal city Zadar.

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov tested positive ahead of the Zadar leg final, which was scrapped as a result, with Djokovic, his compatriot Viktor Troicki and Croatian Borna Coric also testing positive shortly afterwards.

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The remaining two legs in Bosnia and Montenegro were cancelled and Djokovic resumed training in Belgrade and more recently at the Spanish resort of Marbella after his second test came back negative.

“I have trained hard with my team and got my body in shape so I am ready to adapt to new conditions,” Djokovic added on Thursday.

“I have 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.

“I appreciate everyone taking time, effort and energy to organise these two events for the tennis players to go back to their working field.”

The U.S. Open, between August 31 and September 13, will be the first Grand Slam event to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic threw the season into chaos. While this year's Wimbledon was cancelled, the French Open has been rescheduled for a September 27 - October 11 slot.

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