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Djokovic, Barty cast more doubt on possibility of US Open taking place

According to reports, the ATP is set to inform players about plans for the rest of 2020 on June 10. Already top players are expressing scepticism about what they perceive to be rigorous rules regarding safety procedures.

We should learn more in the coming days about the resumption – or not – of both the ATP and WTA Tours, but in the meantime it seems that the world’s top players have increasingly serious reservations about whether it will be possible to stage the US Open, planned for August 31-September 13.

On Thursday, Rafael Nadal told a Zoom press conference with international media that if the US Open was being held today, he would not play and that it should only be held if it’s 100 percent safe and possible for players from all countries to travel and compete.

And on Friday, the sport’s two world No 1s, Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty, cast doubt on whether it is even feasible, given all the restrictions likely to be in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Djokovic, who revealed that he spoke with “leaders of world tennis” on Thursday, said that if the US Open does take place, conditions could be “extreme”.

“Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but… We’d have to sleep in hotels close to the airport and be tested two or three times a week,” Djokovic told Serbian television.

“And it’s not getting any better in terms of being in the stadium. We would only be allowed to be accompanied by one person. It’s just not possible. You have to take into account the coaches, the physical trainers, the physiotherapists. It all seems very complicated to me. I understand these measures, yes, because there are huge financial stakes around the organisation of the US Open. We’ll see what happens.”

US Open organisers told the New York Times this week that a series of measures are likely to be in place if it’s to be held, including reducing the number of people who could accompany players to just one and a potential quarantine period for players coming into the United States.

That, said Barty, might make it too difficult.

“It’s exciting that tennis is being talked about again and things are moving in the right direction for us to start competing but I’d need to understand all of the information and advice from the WTA and the USTA before making a decision on the US events,” Barty told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s not just me, it’s my team I have to consider,” she said.

The US Open is scheduled to be held at Flushing Meadows from August 31 to September 13, with Roland-Garros, which moved from its customary May-June slot, due to start on September 20. The ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until July 31.

According to the New York Times, the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati could be held at Flushing Meadows in its existing August 15-23 slot, but at Flushing Meadows, in order to make it easier for players to be in New York for the US Open.

Also on Friday, the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open announced that it would not be holding its event in October because it could not meet the new WTA rules on safety and hygiene.

Read more: Rafael Nadal says Tours should not resume until it’s safe and fair for everyone

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