MUMBAI (Reuters) - With professional tennis shut down by the novel coronavirus pandemic, world number one Novak Djokovic is bringing together some of the world’s top tennis players for a series of matches to run from June 13-July 5 in the Balkan region.
All pro tennis tours were suspended in early March and will not return before August as countries went into lockdown and closed borders to contain the spread of the virus.
Some players, including Djokovic, have returned to the practice courts while maintaining strict hygiene and social distancing norms, and some exhibition events without fans have also been held in countries like Germany and the United States.
“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,” Djokovic, who turned 33 on Friday, said in a Twitter post.
“Very grateful we could make this happen to play and support humanitarian projects across the region.”
World number three Dominic Thiem of Austria and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who is ranked 19, have confirmed their participation in the eight-man event which will end with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Zadar, in Croatia, Montenegro and Banja Luka in Bosnia will be the other venues for the matches, which will be broadcast on television.
Djokovic, who won his 17th Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open, has been 18-0 this year in all matches.
He lifted the ATP Cup with Serbia, won an eighth Australian Open title and then completed a fifth triumph at the Dubai Tennis Championships, extending his unbeaten run to 21 matches dating back to last season.
BELGRADE (Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic’s winning start to his charity tournament on Saturday was spoiled by news that the event’s third leg, scheduled to take place in Montenegro, has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
The four-leg tour started at Djokovic’s tennis complex in Serbia’s capital earlier on Saturday, with the 33-year old from Belgrade winning his opening singles match against compatriot Viktor Troicki.
But soon after the match finished, Djokovic’s younger brother Djordje, the event’s director, released a statement to the media saying the Montenegro leg was scrapped as Serbia is still among the countries whose citizens are banned from entering the Adriatic republic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been trying to organise this particular leg for weeks but the challenges proved to be insurmountable,” it said.
“We are unable to travel to Montenegro. We hoped that would change but it still hasn’t and this leg of the journey is off.”
The second leg will be held in Croatia’s coastal resort of Zadar on June 20-21, while the final leg is due in Bosnia’s city of Banja Luka on July 3 and 4.
With 12,175 confirmed cases and 252 deaths related to the coronavirus, Serbia has eased many of its lockdown measures including a ban on public gatherings, enabling some 4,000 fans to throng Djokovic’s tennis complex by the Danube river.
The Belgrade leg has rallied some other big names on the men’s ATP Tour such as world number three Dominic Thiem, seventh-ranked Alexander Zverev and number 19 Grigor Dimitrov.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner, and Borna Coric will join Djokovic in the Zadar leg.
BELGRADE (Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic’s winning start to his charity tournament on Saturday was spoiled by news that the event’s third leg, scheduled to take place in Montenegro, has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.The f