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US Open losing star power

Agence France-Presse

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DOMINIC Thiem is doubtful to participate in the US Open. SAEED KHAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BELGRADE, Serbia (AFP) — Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov joined world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in expressing reluctance over playing at the US Open under current conditions while the coronavirus pandemic is still active.

“All of these circumstances are pretty tough,” world No. 3 Thiem said in a press conference in Belgrade.

“So I think some circumstances will have to change (for it to) make sense to go there,” the 26-year-old Austrian said.

Germany’s Zverev, the world No. 7, echoed that view.

“It’s great if we get the opportunity to play, but under these circumstances I don’t think a lot of players will feel comfortable in the environment there,” he said.

“So that’s my opinion. But it’s not really up to us players in that way, in a way the US Open decides.”

Like Djokovic recently, Zverev cited notably the obligatory 14-day quarantine for players arriving in the United States, housing in airport hotels near the tournament and not allowing them to be accompanied by more then one member of the team.

Thiem stressed that a “Grand Slam can be pretty demanding physically and you’ll have to choose your coach or your physio.”

But both Thiem and Bulgaria’s Dimitrov said they would wait until a decision on the US Open — widely expected to be announced on Monday — before taking a final position.

“Well nobody knows, maybe things improve, maybe not, so we will have to wait until the facts are out and then decide,” Thiem said when asked whether he will participate at the tournament.

The US Open main draw is due to get under way in New York on 31 August.

The three players arrived in Belgrade for a charity tournament hosted by Djokovic, which kicks off on Saturday.

The Adria Tour will be held until 5 July in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia.

Djokovic, also the Association of Tennis Professionals players’ council president, suggested that his season might resume on clay ahead of the French Open rather than at the US Open as he repeated concerns about playing in North America.

The Serbian, a three-time champion in New York, stressed that US Open organizers had to relax their “extreme conditions” or players would wait for the European tournaments.

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