Novak Djokovic COVID-19

Raonic Delivers Djokovic Verdict Ahead of US Open

“After this series of events that specific argument doesn’t carry as much weight.”

Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic has suggested that world number one Novak Djokovic has cheapened his opposition to the US Open with some of his recent actions.

Raonic is currently ranked number 30 in the world and was recently asked by Djokovic to take part in a tournament in Montenegro. The 29-year-old Canadian player was born in the country, and Djokovic hoped to play an exhibition match there behind closed doors.

Raonic refused and, as things turned out, matches were played in front of packed crowds in Serbia and Croatia in the lead-up to the Montenegro leg of the tour. Following the matches in the Balkans, 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic fell ill, despite being one of the most vocal critics of staging the US Open and French Open in the latter stages of 2020. That led to Raonic suggesting that his opposition to staging the tournaments carried far less weight when his own actions were taken into consideration.

“I know he was one of those against the idea of coming to the US Open and, at an early point, said under those conditions he doesn’t see how you can be holding a Grand Slam,” Raonic said.

“I think maybe after this series of events that specific argument for him doesn’t carry as much weight. On this specific topic, especially leading up to the US Open, there won’t be as much gravitas behind his comments.”

Raonic felt that the possibility of appearing in the US Open, a tournament in which he has never progressed beyond round four, was ample justification for not traveling to Djokovic’s exhibition games.

“If the US Open was going to happen I didn’t foresee myself travelling to Europe and back. I felt like that was an unnecessary risk.”

The US Open is usually the final tournament of the tennis season. Bwin Sports explains that it is usually scheduled to take place in August and conclude in September, a schedule it looks set to stick to this year. The plan is to start on Aug. 31 for two weeks, then quickly turn the players around for a rescheduled French Open at the end of the month.

That has led to opposition from some top tennis stars who were worried about travelling to the United States while the COVID-19 situation remains unstable. In addition, the gap between the two tournaments has been criticized, with players worried about the pressure the schedule puts on their health, and their ability to play top-level tennis.

Rafael Nadal, the defending champion at Flushing Meadows, has been pictured practising on clay, which could suggest he is set to skip the US Open and remain in Europe for the French Open. Roger Federer is injured and will already miss the tournament, while world number three Dominic Thiem believes protocols limiting the number of support staff a player can take to New York would be risky.

In the women’s game, Serena William’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou has expressed his belief that players will have to choose between the two, with European players likely to favour France and those from America likely to be at the US Open. It is a scenario which could present Raonic, arguably the most successful Canadian player of all time, a chance to finally progress beyond round four and maybe even get a Grand Slam title.