World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will be playing at the 2020 US Open, outlining that it was “not an easy decision to make.”
The 17-time Grand Slam winner has decided to compete in New York despite coronavirus fears which saw many top players, including Rafael Nadal pulling out of the major tennis event.
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The Serbian star said he will test his readiness at the warm-up event — the Western & Southern Open — which will take place one week prior to the US Open.
“I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open this year,” the 33-year old Serb 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.
“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.”
In the absence of his legendary rivals, Nadal and Roger Federer, the Serb, who is seeking his 18th Slam, will be number one favorite to clinch the title in New York.
Djokovic, who himself contracted COVID-19 during his infamous Adria Tour, was lambasted by players and fans for staging the exhibition event during the pandemic without observing necessary protective measures.
The tour, which was called off prematurely due to coronavirus fears, led to a spate of COVID-19 cases, including Djokovic’s own infection. The player apologized for the ill-fated event, but it didn’t save him from the backlash and online criticism.
Now, after passing the relevant COVID tests, Djokovic says he’s ready to return to top-level tennis again.
“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 organize these two events for the tennis players to go back to their working field.”
The U.S. Open will be the first Grand Slam event to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic threw the season into chaos, with this year’s Wimbledon canceled while the French Open has been rescheduled for a Sept. 27-Oct. 11 slot.