World No.1 Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will play in the US Open despite a number of other tennis stars pulling out of the New York grand slam.
His decision will come as good news for the tournament organisers after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Australian star Nick Kyrgios, pulled out over issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a U-turn from Djokovic after his June statements that competing at the US Open would be “impossible” due to “extreme” COVID-19 protocols for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.
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
“I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and US Open this year,” the 33-year old Serb said on his website on Thursday, adding that he will travel to the US on Saturday.
“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.
“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 is chasing his 18th major title, and fourth victory at Flushing Meadows, in a race for the all-time record.
He is behind Roger Federer (20) – who is not competing again this year after right knee surgery – and Rafael Nadal (19).
Djokovic drew heavy criticism for the Adria Tour series he organised in June in Belgrade and Croatia’s Split.
He and several other players and coaches were infected with coronavirus during the series, which was abruptly scrapped as a result.
Both the Western & Southern Open and the US Open will be played without fans in attendance.