World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is joining Rafael Nadal in casting doubt on his participation in the US Open, saying he plans to play a full clay-court season in Europe. Dominic Thiem however, has no problems with the crowded schedule planned for the ATP tour's resumption, indicating he's happy to have several events to choose from.
Djokovic returned to practicing this week on a clay court in Belgrade, further indicating that he is aiming for the string of tournaments on red dirt.
"I'm not sure I'll play the US Open," Djokovic told Sportski Zurnal. "I plan to play Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros in September."
The men's tour will resume with Washington D.C. followed by Cincinnati and the US Open, both played at Flushing Meadows. The reshuffled schedule then shifts to Europe with Madrid, Rome and French Open, adding up to a potential eight weeks of competition.
Thiem said it was a good move by the FFT to reschedule Roland Garros, where he finished runner-up to Nadal in his last two appearances.
"First of all it's cool," he said, speaking with Tiroler Tageszeitung. "The French Open is taking place. It's not important if it's May, October... The problem is there is only a two-week gap between the French Open and US Open, getting far in both will be almost impossible.''
The 26-year-old Austrian indicated that he could change his plans depending on his performance in New York.
"If I have a really good US Open, playing the French will be very, very difficult," he said. "If I exit soon in New York, it would be better for Paris. If I have to sacrifice one of the two Grand Slams, that's the way it is at the moment."
Djokovic backed the work of the USTA to have the event, saying it was important for lower-ranked players.
"I salute the efforts being made to hold tournaments, especially in the USA and in Europe, despite this big crisis," he said.
Thiem, who lost to Djokovic in the season's first major final at the Australian Open, also has another schedule challenge—a home event in Kitzbuhel that is scheduled for the second week of the US Open. But he called it a "win-win" alternative, saying, "If I have a good performance in New York, I can get far there. Otherwise, I can look forward to Kitzbuhel.''
On Monday, tournament director Feliciano Lopez announced Nadal's intention to play in Madrid, furthering the uncertainty surrounding the 19-time major champion heading to Flushing Meadows to defend his US Open title. In June, Nadal said he would not feel comfortable traveling to the U.S in the current climate.