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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Novak Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic says most players he's spoken with are skeptical about traveling to New York to play the US Open.

Photo credit: Christopher Levy

Novak Djokovic is not in a New York state of mind.

The World No. 1 is excited about returning to action in the Adria Tour he's organized, but doesn't sound overly optimistic about playing the US Open—and suggests he isn't alone.

More: Right Knee Surgery Ends Federer's 2020 Season

Djokovic told Serbian network RTS "most of the players I have spoken to are pretty pessimistic about the idea of ​​playing in New York."

New York City has been the epicenter for the coronavirus in the United States. COVID-19 restrictions in New York State have been receding, but New York City is still in phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan.

During phase one, large public gatherings are prohibited as are on-premise restaurant and bar service. Health clubs, gyms and fitness centers are not open while in phase one.

The US Open main draw is scheduled to start on August 31st. The USTA says it will make a final decision on the 2020 US Open on or about June 15th.

USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told The New York Post playing the US Open is the right move for tennis.

“The right thing to do for the sport is to play,” Widmaier told the Post. “If you can do it safely, our goal is still to play.”

The question is will the stars show up in New York if the Open plays as scheduled?

Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer officially pulled the plug on 2020 after undergoing "a quick" arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. 

Reigning Roland Garros and US Open champion Rafael Nadal told the media in a Zoom interview if the US Open were played this week, he would not play in the current COVID-19 climate.

"It is not ideal. Right now I would not like to go play a tennis tournament in New York," Nadal said. "But I do not know in two months because we do not know if the situation is going to improve. I am sure that the people who organize the tournament want that the event is safe and that the French Tennis Federation wants the same thing.

"They want to play if everyone is going to be safe. I trust that they will make the right decisions at the right time. If there is not total security, there is no sense in playing because we have to be responsible and lead by example.

Eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic reiterated his view that safety protocols proposed by the USTA are "extreme" and "impossible."

The US Open is reportedly planning to play with no fans. Private planes would fly players directly to local airports and players would be reportedly required to stay at hotels near the airport and prohibited from staying in Manhattan during the tournament.

Players would be tested for coronavirus multiple times throughout the tournament and player entourages would be limited to a coach. 

“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis, there were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it is not known whether it will be held," Djokovic told Prva TV. "The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme.”

Given the fact the entire ATP Top 10 is European, will some players opt to skip Flushing Meadows and play Roland Garros, scheduled to start on September 20th, a week after the Open ends?

Djokovic, who has been practicing on red clay, suggests players he's spoken with are more likely to return on European clay rather than American hard courts.

"The way things are, tennis will most likely return on the ground in early September," Djokovic told RTS. “At the moment, I think my clay court season will continue until September."


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