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Novak Djokovic calls playing in 2020 U.S. Open 'an impossible task'

Novak Djokovic serves to Stan Wawrinka during the

Novak Djokovic serves to Stan Wawrinka during the fourth round of the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

World No. 1 player Novak Djokovic called the COVID-19 safety measures being considered by the U.S. Open “extreme” and indicated that he likely would not compete in the tournament this year, saying it's “an impossible task.”

The tennis season has been suspended to the end of July because of the pandemic. Wimbledon was canceled and The French Open has been postponed to September. The U.S. Open, which unlike Wimbledon does not have pandemic insurance, is still scheduled to be played in its regular time slot beginning Aug. 31.

"I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the U.S. Open due in late August, but it's not known whether it will be held," Djokovic told Serbia's Prva TV.

"The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.

"Also, we could bring one person to the club, which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist."

The U.S. Open has not publicly released any protocols, but a spokesperson has said that there are a number of scenarios being discussed. Included among the various  scenarios for holding the U.S. Open are arranging testing and travel for players and allowing competitors to bring only one person to the tournament.

Djokovic, a three-time U.S. Open champ, joins defending champion Rafael Nadal in having his doubts about the tournament. Nadal has publicly questioned whether the event can be held safely in a city that has been so hard hit by the virus.

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