Djokovic confirms US Open entry as defending champs Nadal and Andreescu join list of withdrawals

Former champions Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters join New York’s main draws

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (Photo: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)

World No1 and three-time former champion Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will compete at the US Open in New York at the end of the month.

He will also play the Cincinnati Masters, which will be played in the preceding week under the same behind-closed-doors conditions at the New York venue in Flushing Meadows.

In a statement on his website, he said:

“I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western and Southern Open and US Open this year. It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.

“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 people of New York. Nevertheless, I have trained hard with my team and got my body in shape so I am ready to adapt to new conditions. I’ve 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.”

Djokovic refers to his own positive test for Covid-19 in the aftermath of the aborted Adria tour, where a number of other players also tested positive, including Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.

Djokovic continued:

“Unfortunately for the players and the game itself, the current situation is not allowing everyone to travel and compete at the same level of risk, and I hope the situation will change soon and we will all be back to doing what we love and do best.”

Among those on the men’s tour to withdraw are world No2 and US Open defending champion Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer (absent for the rest of the season following two knee procedures), No9 Gael Monfils, No11 Fabio Fognini, and No17—and also a former champion—Stan Wawrinka.

On a positive note for both Cincinnati and the US Open, a former champion at both, Andy Murray, will play for the first time this year. The 2012 US Open champion is currently ranked just 129, and headlined the wild cards for both events. However, subsequent withdrawals at the US Open have propelled Murray into the main draw as a direct entry.

The women’s US Open defending champion and world No6 Bianca Andreescu has also withdrawn because, she said in a statement, the coronavirus pandemic has hampered her return from injury. The 20-year-old Canadian, who beat Serena Williams in the 2019 final, has not played since sustaining a knee injury at the WTA Finals last October.

She said:

“After many discussions with those closest to me, I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year. I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level… I realise that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Her withdrawal is one of four in the women’s top 10, after Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens also pulled out.

World No2 Simona Halep, who is currently playing on the clay of Prague, said there that she has not made a final decision about travelling to New York. However the 23-time Major champion Serena Williams does intend to play, and will be targeting a seventh US Open title.

Again, a popular former champion has added an extra positive note to this year’s Open. The three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters (2005, 2009, 2010), who came out of a seven-year retirement earlier in 2020, has been awarded a wild card, and will play the tournament for the first time since she stepped away from the game following the 2012 tournament.

Clijsters initially retired from tennis in 2007 at the age of 23 to get married and have a daughter. She returned to the sport two years later to win her second US Open title as a wild card, and defended her title the next year.

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