Rafael Nadal shocked the tennis world after withdrawing from the US Open due to health concerns and in the wake of the decision the 19-time Grand Slam champ has defended Novak Djokovic after the ill-fated Adria Tour.
Nadal skipping the US Open, along with Roger Federer’s absence due to a knee injury, sent fans wild after the incredible stat it would be the first time since 1999 neither of the pair would be in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
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But following Nadal’s announcement he broke his silence on the controversial exhibition event Novak Djokovic hosted, which resulted in the World No.1, Dimitrov, Coric and Viktor Troicki all testing positive for the coronavirus, as did the wives of Djokovic and Troicki following the event.
While players such as Nick Kyrgios chose to condemn Djokovic and some of the other players for their actions during the event, Nadal has admitted mistakes were made but it is normal during unprecedented circumstances.
"Of course there was a mistake in the tour organised in Serbia and Croatia but mistakes are normal when you face a situation you haven't faced before,” Nadal said in a media conference.
"The players need to make decisions but I am not saying mine is the right one. Every decision can be right or wrong. We are facing unpredictable situations.
"I really hope people learn from the Adria Tour and we continue in the best way possible."
Djokovic aims to close Nadal’s title gap
The 34-year-old Spaniard’s withdrawal from the US Open means he can’t join Federer at the top of the list with 20 Grand Slam titles.
Instead, his decision has cleared the path for 33-year-old Djokovic to edge to within one of Nadal's Grand Slam tally with a fourth title at Flushing Meadows and 18 in total.
If it might seem unfair to gloss over the chances of the other 127 men in the US Open main draw, it must be remembered that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have shared the last 13 Grand Slam titles between them.
Only Djokovic of the Big Three will be present in New York later this month with Federer, who turns 39 on Saturday, electing to undergo double knee surgery that will sideline him for the rest of 2020.