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Novak Djokovic marked his return to Serbia, after being stranded in the Spain for two months due to the coronavirus lockdown, with news he has organized a tennis event to be contested across the Balkans.
When the world number one travelled to the resort of Marbella with his family in mid-March to visit his younger brother Marko, he had no idea it would be another two months before he could return to his homeland. But it was not all bad news for Djokovic.
“Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court,” Djokovic told a news conference at his private tennis complex in Belgrade.
Australian Open holder Djokovic, who went on an 18-0 run at the beginning of the season, confirmed there would be three big names apart from himself at the June 13-July 5 tournament.
“I am delighted that Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev will be my guests here in my hometown,” said the 17-times major champion.
The first leg will take place on red clay in Belgrade on June 13 and 14 at Djokovic’s complex and the second in Croatia’s coastal resort Zadar on June 20 and 21.
Montenegro and Bosnia have been elected to host the final two legs, but Djokovic said the infrastructure was still not in place.
All four tournaments will feature eight players, competing in two pools of four on a round-robin basis with the winners of each pool advancing to the final.
Djokovic added sets would be slashed to winning four games instead of six, with a total of 13 matches to be played over two days in each leg.
Asked whether he considered inviting longtime rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to the event, Djokovic said: “Quite frankly, inviting Federer didn’t cross my mind because … he is still nursing a knee injury.