Novak Djokovic Won't Compete in 2021 Western & Southern Open, Focused on US OpenAugust 9, 2021
Novak Djokovic announced Monday that he will be skipping this year's Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to focus on the U.S. Open:
Djokovic is fresh off an appearance at the Tokyo Olympics, where he surprisingly failed to medal.
Djokovic was something of a controversial figure at the Tokyo Games when he lost his temper in his loss to Pablo Carreno Busta during the bronze-medal singles match. At one point, he threw his racket into an empty section of the stands. At another juncture, he smashed his racket and broke it against the net post.
"It's part of, I guess, who I am," he told reporters. "I don't like doing these things. I'm sorry for sending this kind of message, but we're all human beings, and sometimes it's difficult to control your emotions."
Djokovic also withdrew from the bronze-medal mixed doubles match with partner Nina Stojanovic, saying he was unable to play with a shoulder injury that had forced him to play "under medicines, unbelievable pain and exhaustion" through the Olympic tournament.
Djokovic came under fire after a meme went viral that cited a quote from Djokovic in the wake of United States star gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from several events for mental health reasons.
"Pressure is a privilege, my friend," Djokovic said. "Without pressure, there is no professional sport. If you are aiming to be at the top of the game you better start learning how to deal with pressure and how to cope with those moments."
Those comments were taken out of context, however. While the original question mentioned the situation with Biles, Djokovic was speaking about his own experiences dealing with pressure, both on and off the court throughout his career, and not referring to Biles.
Reuters reporter Sudipto Ganguly, who asked the question, verified on Twitter that Djokovic's answer was taken out of context:
Sudipto Ganguly @Sudipto_Reuters
“Novak, you wud’ve heard about Simona Biles yesterday talking about mental health & the pressure of performing. You are in this position going for the golden slam, you know, there is no more pressure on a tennis player than you currently. Can you speak a bit about it?” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Djokovic?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Djokovic</a>
While Djokovic didn't get his gold medal, he's still on track to claim the calendar-year Grand Slam this season, having already triumphed at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. He would become the first man to accomplish the feat since Rod Laver in 1969 were he to win the U.S. Open.