Djokovic says important all players free to travel to U.S. Open

World number one Novak Djokovic says he is excited by the prospect of playing at the U.S. Open but says it would only be fair if every player eligible is able to compete.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Adria Tour – Belgrade, Serbia – June 14, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo

The Unites States Tennis Association (USTA) announced this week that the U.S. Open would go ahead at the end of August without fans and with strict health protocols in place.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still peaking in some regions of the world, Djokovic is concerned that many players will not be able to travel even if they wanted to.

“Hopefully every single player who is participating, chosen by ranking and who deserves their place at the U.S. Open, will have an equal opportunity to travel there and compete as everybody else,” Djokovic told Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast.

“This is very important because this is the foundation of the ATP and the foundation of international tennis.”

Several leading players have voiced their concerns about the U.S. Open taking place, especially as the U.S. has the most deaths from COVID-19 in the world.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal said he would be unlikely to travel there in the current circumstances while women’s world number two Simona Halep has also indicated she will not go.

Earlier this month Djokovic said competing in New York would be impossible because of the “extreme” COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

However, the Serb says he is very glad it is going ahead and that the ATP Tour would resume in August after being suspended since March because of the pandemic.

“I’m extremely happy and excited to see that all the tournaments, especially Grand Slams, are organizing their events,” the 33-year-old 17-time Grand Slam champion said.

“I think that a lot of people were skeptical, especially for the U.S. events considering what the U.S. went through as a country during this pandemic. So a lot of people, including myself, were quite skeptical on whether it would happen or not.

“Let’s hope that in the next two months some of those restrictions will loosen up a bit and that we will have a great, great tournament.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis