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.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Hugh Lawson