September 26, 2020

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Novak Djokovic concerned over US Open’s allegedly ‘extreme’ coronavirus guidelines

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Novak Djokovic says playing in the US Open would be impossible because of the “extreme” guidelines put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament is scheduled to kick off on August 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. It will be the first Grand Slam to be played since the pandemic hit, with the French Open postponed until September and Wimbledon canceled.

Even though it is scheduled, the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world says he’s not sure the tournament will actually be played. Djokovic was not too keen on the rules that would be put in place for the US Open to go on as planned.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme,” he said, according to ESPN. “We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week. Also, we could bring one person to the club, which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

The US Open has not officially said what the safety guidelines and protocols will be for the tournament.

Speaking to Serbia’s Prva TV, Djokovic added that when he talked to leaders of world tennis about the US Open, his takeaway was that “it’s not known whether it will be held.” He did say that money is the driving force behind trying to hold the tournament.

“They want the tournament to go ahead at any cost for economic reasons, which I understand. But the question is, how many players are willing to accept those terms?” Djokovic asked.

British tennis player Dan Evans disagrees with Djokovic and said that not every athlete is concerned about the limit of one person allowed at the club.

“I don’t think having one person of your team only allowed is such a big deal — the majority of the draw would only travel with one coach,” Evans told the BBC. “Not everyone’s traveling with physios and fitness trainers like Novak said, so I think his argument there is not really valid for the rest of the draw, apart from the real top guys.”

It might not matter what lesser known players like Evans think, though. Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic, said recently that he will not travel to the United States as it currently stands.

“For me, [it] is very difficult to separate the status that the world is living from my real perspective on the world of tennis, no?” Nadal said, according to ESPN. “We need to be responsible, we need to be sure that the situation is safe enough, and then of course try to come back to our tour when the things are clear.”

The U.S. currently has the most cases of coronavirus of any country in the world, with over 1.9 million and over 109,000 deaths.