Novak Djokovic has revealed that the Serbia Open probably will not return in 2024. In 2021, Belgrade hosted an ATP tournament for the first time since 2012 after the ATP approved the tournament relocation from Budapest to the Serbian capital.
But the licence owner Ion Tiriac leased the licence through 2023 and he does not want to sell it to the Djokovic family. However, Djokovic respects Tiriac's choice. At the Serbia Open, Djokovic's brother Djordje is the tournament director.
“First of all, I must say that the licence is not ours. We leased it from its owner Ion Tiriac and now he wants it back. We wanted to buy the licence, to host the tournament in Serbia for many years to come, because we were successful – many people in the stands, ATP gave us excellent grades for all the efforts, but there is not much we can do when the owner doesn’t want to sell the licence.
We have to respect that," Djokovic told Sport Klub, as revealed on Tennis Majors.
Djokovic: We won't quit
The Djokovic family now has two options - to either try to lease a licence again or to try to buy a tournament licence.
But according to Djokovic, the prices of the licences "have gone through the roof" and the tournaments are not really willing to sell licences because most of them are making good money from staging ATP events. “We are now looking into two different alternatives to get the licence.
Either to apply with the ATP for the new licence – which is less likely because there are many tournaments as it is – or to negotiate a lease on another licence. Possibly to even buy that licence, but the prices have gone through the roof and most tournaments are profitable, so it is understandable that they don’t want to sell.
Our desire is big, so we will see,“ Djokovic explained. This year, the Serbia Open will take place in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Belgrade, there are renovations ongoing at the Novak Tennis Centre so the tournament organizers decided to find a replacement location.
The Serbia Open organizers wanted to improve the venue for 2024 but now they might not get a chance to stage an ATP tournament.
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