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Djokovic to play at US Open

*AFP photo

Novak Djokovic confirmed yesterday he will play at the US Open, ending speculation about his presence at the first Grand Slam tournament since the coronavirus restart.

“I’m happy to confirm that I‘ll participate at #CincyTennis and #USOpen this year,” Djokovic tweeted.

“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,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner added.

The US Open is due to get underway behind closed doors in New York on August 31.

It is preceded by the Western and Southern Open, which is normally played in Cincinnati but has been moved to New York this year.
Djokovic’s decision to take part in the US Open is a major boost for the tournament after a host of headline names pulled out.

The list of absentees includes four-time champion Rafael Nadal and woman’s world number one Ashleigh Barty.

Djokovic was heavily criticised after hosting a charity tennis event in the Balkans in June at which he and a number of players tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Barty won’t have a chance to fulfil her dream of winning Wimbledon this year, but she remains laser-focused on being crowned champion at the All-England Club.

The Australian won the junior Wimbledon title as a 15-year-old in 2011, but the expectations that came with that success took their toll and she made a shock decision three years later to ditch tennis for cricket.

“In short, I think I needed just to find myself,” Barty, who is skipping the upcoming US Open due to coronavirus fears, said in an interview yesterday with broadcaster ABC of her move to the Brisbane Heat cricket team.

“I felt like I got twisted and maybe a little bit lost along the way in the first part of my career.”

While cricket gave her “a different perspective about sport”, the lure of tennis was never far away, driven by an ambition to taste success again at Wimbledon.

“My dream is winning Wimbledon. Without a doubt,” said Barty, who returned to tennis in 2016.*AFP

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January 2023

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