Tennis: World Number One Novak Djokovic to Play In US Open

Djokovic's decision will come as good news for the US Open organizers after several high-profile players

Novak Djokovic, the reigning world number one announced in a statement Thursday that he will be competing in the US Open scheduled to be held from August 31-September 13, and the curtain-raiser Western & Southern Open.

"I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open this year," said the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles. "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," he added.

Djokovic's U-turn

His decision will come as good news for the US Open organizers after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, pulled out over issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds up the trophy during the trophy awarding ceremony after the men's singles final match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain at 2019 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 27, 2019. (Xinhua/Bai Xu
Novak Djokovic Xinhua

But it is also a U-turn from Djokovic after his June statements that competing at the 2020 US Open would be "impossible" due to "extreme" COVID-19 protocols for the tournament at Flushing Meadows. Djokovic added, "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 and three other players contracted the coronavirus at the Serb's Adria Tour event in June, with the first leg being held at his tennis center in Belgrade and the second in Croatia's coastal city Zadar.

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov tested positive ahead of the Zadar leg final, which was scrapped as a result, with Djokovic, his compatriot Viktor Troicki and Croatian Borna Coric also testing positive shortly afterward.

First Grand Slam Since COVID-19 Pandemic

The remaining two legs in Bosnia and Montenegro were canceled and Djokovic resumed training in Belgrade and more recently at the Spanish resort of Marbella after his second COVID-19 test came back negative.

"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 Serbian said.

The US 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 September 27-October 11 slot.

(With inputs from agencies)