Novak Djokovic Announces He'll Play in 2020 U.S. Open After COVID-19 Diagnosis

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2020

Serbia's Novak Djokovic carries the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in the final of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic confirmed he'll compete in the 2020 U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 in New York City.

"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," Djokovic said in a statement, per the Associated Press' Howard Fendrich

The three-time U.S. Open champion tested positive for COVID-19 in June and subsequently cast doubt on whether he'd make the trip to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center later this month.

Djokovic drew criticism for the circumstances surrounding his positive COVID-19 test.

He spearheaded the Adria Tour, a series of exhibition matches across Europe this summer. The entire event was scrapped after two weeks when multiple people involved tested positive for the coronavirus. ESPN.com's Peter Bodo explained how tournament organizers did little in the way of establishing health and safety protocols to account for the ongoing pandemic.

In his statement Thursday, Djokovic acknowledged how those competing in the U.S. Open will be required to follow strict protocols:

"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 NY. 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 checkups to make sure I am fully recovered and I am ready to get back on court fully committed to playing my best tennis."

The 33-year-old will be favored by many to take this year's title. Roger Federer announced in June he wouldn't return for the 2020 season due to his continued recovery from knee surgery. Rafael Nadal posted a series of tweets on Aug. 4 to say he was withdrawing from the tournament.

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Djokovic has yet to lose at an ATP Tour event this season, sporting an 18-0 record. He defeated Dominic Thiem in the final of the Australian Open in February and dropped only one set en route to victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later that month.