Belgrade (dpa) – Spectators stand side by side, Alexander Zverev passes them towels and hugs Novak Djokovic on the net after his defeat on Sunday.
In Belgrade, the semi-finalist of the Australian Open has returned to an unofficial tennis tournament after a break of around three and a half months. The ambience of the Adriatic tour, initiated by world number one Djokovic, did not suggest that it was show competitions during the Corona pandemic. Before the eagerly awaited decision on Monday, whether the US Open can actually take place in the badly affected New York, the event will be viewed critically.
Zverev, however, was pleased that on Saturday, even with his 4-1, 4-1 win against Serbian Viktor Troicki after midnight, spectators were sitting in the stands. “That means a lot to me. When we started the tour, we didn’t know whether we could have spectators, now we can,” said the 23-year-old on the pitch. On Sunday, he lost his last preliminary game against Djokovic despite an increase in the meantime 0: 4, 4: 1, 2: 4 and thus just missed first place and the final.
After the corona-related compulsory break, football games with an audience have been allowed again since June 1, provided that a safety distance of one meter is maintained between the spectators. Such precautions were not seen in tennis or on television broadcasts. Zverev said goodbye to his opponent with a handshake and pat on the shoulder, and also shook hands with the referee. Ball kids were also on the court.
Zverev won the second game against Troicki in the second game. He had previously prevailed on Saturday with more problems and after defeated match balls with 0: 4, 4: 3 (7: 5), 4: 3 (7: 2) against the Serbian Filip Krajinovic. “I didn’t start the day well, but I ended well,” said the seventh in the world rankings, for whom the two victories were not enough for first place. Austrian top player Dominic Thiem, who reached the final against Krajinovic, played in the other group. “A full center court is a dream for every player,” said Thiem to Ambiente.
With the show fight series, Djokovic wants to collect money for charitable purposes. The professional tours ATP and WTA are still standing, at least until July 31st the tournaments are suspended. That is why the German Tennis Association is currently organizing a tournament series – albeit with less prominent names and under considerably stricter hygiene rules.
Monday will decide whether the US Open will actually begin at the end of August with accommodation in an airport hotel and only a small staff and without access to Manhattan. Australian Open winner Djokovic had criticized the hygiene plans, and Zverev also joined the doubts. “It’s going to be difficult. It’s great when we get the chance to play, but I don’t think a lot of players feel comfortable in these circumstances,” said the 23-year-old. “That’s my opinion, but it’s not really up to us players, the US Open will decide it anyway.”