Coronavirus: Novak Djokovic to play in new Balkans tour next month

By Sports Desk May 22, 2020

World number one Novak Djokovic will return to the court next month for a new tour in the Balkans.

The spread of coronavirus - and the subsequent suspension of the ATP Tour - means Djokovic has not played since beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

The ATP Tour will not resume until August at the earliest, but Djokovic has confirmed he will participate in a new tournament that is launching in his native Serbia.

The Adria Tour will be held in four countries - Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina - with events on June 13-14, June 20-21, June 27-28 and July 3-4.

Djokovic, who turned 33 on Friday, will play in each leg of the series and will face Bosnian Damir Dzumhur on July 5 in a final exhibition match in Sarajevo.

He wrote on Twitter: "I'm proud to officially share the news that the #AdriaTour will be held across the #Balkans 13 June - 5 July kicking off with a tournament in Belgrade. Very grateful we could make this happen to play and support humanitarian projects across the region."

Tournament organisers said the aim of the series is to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

As well as Djokovic, Austria's world number three Dominic Thiem has also signed up, as have Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

Organisers said tickets will be sold to fans if "the presence of the audience is allowed".

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    Djokovic is back in Serbia after spending two months in Marbella, as the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from returning to his homeland.

    The 17-time grand slam champion, who is set to host and play in the new Adria Tour next month, did not want to make it public that he had been able to stay more active than most of his rivals during his time in Spain.

    He said at a press conference in Belgrade on Monday: "Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court.

    "I refrained from posting clips on social networks because I didn't want to infuriate other players. I am fit and in good shape, so I am looking forward to the Adria Tour, which I am organising."

    Djokovic, who turned 33 last Friday, revealed that Alexander Zverev is the latest player who has committed to playing on the Adria Tour.

    The world number seven has agreed to play in the June 13-14 event in Belgrade and could be on court in Zadar, Croatia a week later.

    Djokovic added that matches in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have not yet been 100 per cent confirmed.

    The events have been arranged to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

    Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov are among the other players who will feature.

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    French Open director Guy Forget says he is working closely with tennis authorities to ensure the tournament at Roland Garros does not clash with the US Open.

    The Parisian major was initially scheduled to start on Sunday but the coronavirus pandemic resulted in it being postponed until September 20 – a week after the final of the US Open.

    Criticism of the decision was rife, and the calendar for the rest of the season remains up in the air with the ATP Tour and WTA Tour suspended until August at the earliest.

    Forget said he is working towards a suitable resolution and expects an announcement on the US Open's plans in June.

    "The official announcement has not been made yet. [The French Open] will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October," Forget told French radio station Europe 1.

    "We've been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year.

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    "They will make an announcement mid-June to say how it's going to be like for the US Open."

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    "The signals are going in the right direction with the reopening of businesses," he said.

    "We can imagine that this will also be the case for restaurants and bars in the coming weeks.

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    "You have to be ambitions and optimistic. We hope that Roland Garros will take place, and in good conditions."

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