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Djokovic has nothing to prove after Adria Tour & COVID-19

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RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

VIDEO SHOWS: NEWS CONFERENCE WITH WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, GENERAL VIEWS OF FLUSHING MEADOW - THE VENUE FOR THE WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN AND THE U.S. OPEN

SHOWS:

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 21, 2020) (ATP MEDIA/IMG - NO ARCHIVE. NO RESALES)

1. WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE AND TAKING OFF MASK

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING:

REPORTER, ASKING: "You had that glitch with the Adria Tour and stuff. So, are you seeing this tournament as a way to really kind of get yourself back on track; with that show a different face to the public… did that play a part in your decision to come here instead of staying back and playing the French Open?"

"No, I don't see it that way. I don't think that I'm going to show a different face because the people know my face mostly from the tennis court so, obviously I'm going back to kind of the environment that I'm most comfortable with. Obviously, I don't enjoy anything that I do off the court that is related to tennis as much as I do the things that I do on the court. So, I love competing and I think in the end of the day we all are professional tennis players and we all want to be here and our season to restart. So, no that was also not the deciding factor of why I came to New York. First of all, I miss tennis, I miss competition, you know, and I also worked closely in the (ATP) council with the ATP and obviously the ATP management and board has worked closely with the USTA to make this happen. And obviously the bubble environment and the circumstances are obviously different to what we're used to but at the same time I think the bottom line is that it's positive that we're here and I congratulate the USTA, ATP and everyone who has been involved to make this happen. It's not easy. I mean we're one of the few global sports that have not found a way to keep going but it's all understandable and I think especially when you see things from the perspective of our sport being played worldwide week after week with every country and every continent going through a different circumstances… different, sorry, restrictions and different regulations."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING:

"Well, I was honestly very close to not come. I mean, until probably a week before I landed in New York I didn't know whether I'd be playing or not because things were so unpredictable. I mean, there so many different points that were discussed and for me the crucial, so to say, the most fundamental point that had to be confirmed I think for us players is the special exemption for coming back to Europe without being quarantined so that we could actually be able to compete in the European tournaments like Roma for example or Kitzbuehel for that matter or any other that is on the provisional calendar. So, that was the key issue that wasn't confirmed until quite late."

6. WHITE FLASH

7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING:

"Well, I mean obviously… Look, you know, I did not make my decision because Rafa (Nadal) pulled out. I mean, if that's what people want to hear… I made my decision already months ago to come to the U.S. Open and play here because I really wanted to restart on a hard court where I feel the most comfortable. That's the surface that I had more success on. I love playing in the U.S. Open. So, I did make my call to come but I wasn't 100% sure whether that was going to happen or not until certain points were defined and clarified before coming here, which was as I mentioned before the special exemption and coming without quarantine back to Europe and so forth, etc and a few other details. But once that was checked and, you know, I flew over, that's it and every grand slam that I play is an opportunity to get the title. I know that but I'm not the only one. Any other player who is playing here has a chance to win it. Whether I have a bigger chance to win it because Rafa (Nadal) and Roger (Federer) are not here I really don't know. I mean, I think it's unfair for me to talk about that kind of way that is kind of disrespectful towards other players who are here. I mean Dominic Thiem, (Alexander) Zverev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Daniil) Medvedev; these guys, I mean, they are as good as all the top three guys that are here - myself, Roger and Rafa. Anybody can take it to be honest and especially now after six months of absence from the tour we don't really know how we're going to feel on the court. You know, we're going to have Cincinnati which is great to have a tournament before the U.S. Open but it's still six months without competition, best of five (sets), you can't get your towel from the ball kid. That's going to extend the time between the points, that's going to extend the time of the matches. I don't know, it's just one of these things that you have to experience in order to really know how it's going to feel."

8. WHITE FLASH

9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING:

"When we talked on that Zoom call (with the USTA) we got information from the gentleman that if a player is not sharing a room in a hotel with his coach or physio or anyone from his team that is infected, that is positive, and his results are showing that he's negative, he can still compete in the tournament. And we've asked that question a couple of times on the call and that's what was communicated to us. So, we thought that is the way and that's why a lot of players were upset when they… they were and they still are upset including myself. When I see that (Hugo) Dellien and (Guido) Pella are treated in this way. But, again, it's hard. I really… I can't point fingers at anybody. It's just this kind of circumstances are very tricky. Things are changing so rapidly and I guess there is always a realistic chance that this might happen during the U.S. Open as well and then we don't even know, it was not determined, how many players have to be infected for maybe the tournament to be cancelled and stuff. So, as we go along, I think we will figure things out more and I think we just have to stick together and hope for the best."

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 20, 2020) (ATP MEDIA/IMG - NO ARCHIVE. NO RESALES)

10. USTA BILLIE JEAN KING TENNIS CENTER - WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN SIGN AND MASK/SOCIAL DISTANCING SIGN

11. TENNIS CENTER GROUNDS

12. VARIOUS OF ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM AND WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN SIGNS

13. PLAYER WALKING PAST SIGN ASKING PEOPLE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

14. VARIOUS OF ALEX ZVEREV PLAYING SOCCER ON SMALL TENNIS COURT

15. STEFANOS TSITSIPAS PLAYING SOCCER ON SMALL TENNIS COURT

16. FOUNTAINS AND WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN SIGN

STORY: World number one Novak Djokovic told reporters on Friday (August 21) that he does not feel he has to act any differently or prove anything when he plays in New York over the next few weeks.

Djokovic will play at the Western & Southern Open, which begins on Saturday (August 22) and he will also feature at the U.S. Open which is being held from Aug. 31-Sept 13.

Due to the pandemic the Western & Southern Open, typically held in Ohio, will be played at Flushing Meadows - the same venue as the U.S. Open.

The Serb and three other players contracted COVID-19 at Djokovic's Adria Tour event in June, with the first leg being held at his tennis centre in Belgrade and the second in Croatia's coastal city Zadar.

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov tested positive ahead of the Zadar leg final, which was scrapped as a result, with Djokovic, his compatriot Viktor Troicki and Croatian Borna Coric also testing positive shortly afterwards.

The remaining two legs in Bosnia and Montenegro were cancelled and Djokovic resumed training in Belgrade and more recently at the Spanish resort of Marbella after his second COVID-19 test came back negative.

Djokovic and his team were heavily criticised for the handling of that tournament but he's now focused on playing competitive tennis for the first time since March.

Shortly after the Adria Tour, Djokovic suggested he would not travel to the U.S. saying it would be "impossible" due to "extreme" COVID-19 protocols for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

His U-turn came as good news for the U.S. Open organisers after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, pulled out over issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

One of tennis' four grand slams, the U.S. Open now presents Djokovic with a great opportunity to claim his 18th grand slam title and move within one of Nadal's total and two behind Federer who holds the all-time men's record

On Friday, the 17-times grand slam champion insisted his change of heart was not because the likes of defending champion Nadal hadn't travelled. The 33-year-old believes it's still a strong field for both the Western & Southern Open and the U.S. Open despite Nadal and Roger Federer - who's injured - not playing.

Meanwhile, Djokovic said he's unhappy with the way Argentina's Guido Pella and Hugo Dellien of Bolivia have been treated after being placed in quarantine for 14 days due to their fitness trainer testing positive for COVID-19.

The pair are at risk of missing the U.S. Open and will not play in the Western & Southern Open despite their test results returning negative.

Djokovic said the USTA had reassured players on a conference call in the last few weeks that if a member of their team tested positive they could still play provided that they weren't sharing a hotel room with the infected person and that their test results were negative.

However, organisers of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday (August 19) said two players, who were in close contact with the infected person, had been placed in quarantine and removed from the tournament field

Later that day, men's world number 35 Pella and Dellien, who is ranked 94, posted separate videos on Instagram to confirm that they have returned negative results for the COVID-19 test but are currently in quarantine

(Production: Tim Hart)

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