Sun | Sep 20, 2020

Djokovic decides to play at US Open

Published:Friday | August 14, 2020 | 12:15 AM

The Big Three will be represented at the US Open, after all: Novak Djokovic announced yesterday he will enter the Grand Slam tournament and the hard-court tune-up preceding it in New York.

Djokovic initially complained about the US Tennis Association’s plans to try to protect people from the coronavirus pandemic with such measures as limiting the size of players’ entourages, going so far as to say he didn’t know whether he would participate.

“It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides,” said the No. 1-ranked Djokovic, who tested positive for COVID-19 in June, “but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.”

The US Open is scheduled to begin August 31, without spectators. Before that, the Western & Southern Open – normally held in Cincinnati – will be played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, starting August 22.

Djokovic has won three of his 17 Grand Slam titles at the US Open and was the runner-up there five times. By playing this year, he will have a chance to narrow the gap between him and the only two men with more major trophies: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Federer, who has won 20 Slam championships, is sidelined for the rest of 2020 after having two operations on his right knee. Nadal, who owns 19 major titles and is the reigning champion in New York, said he was pulling out of the US Open because of concerns about travelling amid the pandemic.

Other players who have said they won’t play at the US Open include the top-ranked woman, Ash Barty, and past men’s champion Stan Wawrinka.

Fiona Ferro – who won the first tournament when tour play resumed, last week at Palermo, Italy – withdrew Thursday, citing a rib injury. That allowed Caroline Dolehide to move into the main draw in New York and relinquish her wild card, which the USTA gave another American, Claire Liu.