Serbia's Novak Djokovic and fellow compatriot Filip Krajinovic won't be meeting USA's Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe in the Cincinnati Masters doubles first round after the world No. 1 was forced to withdraw from the match due to a neck pain.
Djokovic, seeded at No. 1 in the Cincinnati Masters singles main draw, entered the doubles event eith his good friend Krajinovic hoping to get some rhythm before his singles opener at the tournament. But unfortunately the 33-year-old pulled out from the doubles event just hours before it was scheduled to take place.
Djokovic and Krajinovic will be replaced by fellow compatriots Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic, who will now be taking on Paul and Tiafoe. Meanwhile, Djokovic has learned that his second round opponent in the Cincinnati singled event will be Ricardas Berankis, who beat American Taylor Fritz.
Djokovic was close to opting to skip the Cincinnati Masters and US Open
"Well, I was obviously close to not come, honestly, until probably week before I landed in New York. I didn't know whether I'm going to be playing or not because things were so unpredictable.
I mean, there were so many different points that were discussed," Djokovic said. "For me, the crucial, so to say, the most fundamental point that had to be confirmed, I think, for us players is this special exemption of coming back to Europe without being quarantined so we can actually be able to compete in the European tournaments like Roma or Kitzbuhel for that matter or anything on the provisionary calendar.
So that was the key issue that wasn't confirmed until quite late. "And then the next one, I think the big one, was the automatic disqualification, you know, that also was discussed a lot about. That was confirmed. Yet now we have this situation with Pella and Dellien which was quite tricky.
"Things are changing a lot of times and in such a short period. Sometimes it's out of the hands of USTA and ATP and governing body in tennis, and it's more up to the health department of New York state, and we have to accept it, I guess.
It's tough. It's not easy. "And especially with these two guys, it's not easy seeing them being out of the Cincinnati tournament and most likely out of US Open and being quarantined and yet have the negative results, several negative results in last couple of days."