'Novak Djokovic just wanted to create a big charity event, but...', says former No. 1

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'Novak Djokovic just wanted to create a big charity event, but...', says former No. 1

Thanks to the absences of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic is considered the big favorite for success at the US Open. However, the very long suspension due to the pandemic could contribute to a reshuffling of the cards.

The World number 1, who will also participate in the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, has ended up in the eye of the storm lately due to the way the Adria Tour, the exhibition he himself devised for charitable purposes. Failure to comply with the protocols on social distancing led to the infection of four players, including Djokovic himself, accused by colleagues and insiders of little responsibility.

Recently, his former coach Boris Becker explained how this edition of the New York Slam lends itself to unexpected exploits. After a global health crisis that disrupted the circuit for six months, rust could play a bad trick on the favorites.

Becker on Novak Djokovic

"The tournament is open, in a Grand Slam no one has a clear path," asserted Boris Becker. "Nole has great experience, but this is a new situation for everyone. Whoever adapts first will be favored.

And who knows, new names could also emerge." The Adria Tour, hosted and funded by Novak Djokovic and members of his family, led to four players - Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Grigor Dimitrov and Djokovic himself - testing positive for COVID-19.

Since then, the Serb has faced massive backlash from the tennis world over his supposed lack of responsibility and concern. "It must be emphasized that tennis remains a safe sport because there are no contacts between the players," Becker said.

"Nothing can really happen. That tournament was for a good cause, Nole just wanted to create a big charity event, but the fact that the Serbian government allowed spectators to fill the stands without protection didn't help.

The virus threat should have been handled differently globally, and instead, the wrong decision was made. Or, simply, it was hoped that everything would be fine. Unfortunately the forecasts were not correct and, as often happens, in retrospect we can say that we had to be much more careful," the German added.

With nearly 350 players on site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, health and safety protocols are in full effect for the Western & Southern Open and 2020 US Open. The NTC officially opened for business on Saturday, and all players competing in the main draw of the relocated Cincinnati event are required to be in the USTA's controlled environment and tested by Tuesday, providing a four-day window ahead of the Aug. 22 start.