MUMBAI (Reuters) – American tennis player Danielle Collins has hit out at men’s world number one Novak Djokovic for his opposition to the COVID-19 protocols proposed by the U.S. Open organisers, saying players need to start earning money again.
The hardcourt major is scheduled to begin on Aug. 31 and Djokovic has said that it would be “impossible” to play under the protocols, which would restrict players to their hotels with only one support staff.
The 17-times Grand Slam winner earlier urged players to contribute to a fund to help lower-ranked professionals affected by the shutdown which began in early March and will continue at least until end of July.
“This is a serious contradiction,” Collins, who made the semi-finals of the 2019 Australian Open, wrote on Instagram. “No one has been able to play sanctioned events or make money since February.
“This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with (him) will be too difficult.”
Collins urged Djokovic, who heads the men’s ATP Tour players council, to support the U.S. Open organisers.
“It’s easy when someone’s made $150 million throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the U.S. Open,” she said.
The United States is still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic and has seen daily anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody.
Australian Nick Kyrgios presented a contrasting view to Collins and said the U.S. Open plans should be shelved.
“The ATP is trying to make the U.S. Open go ahead,” Kyrgios said on Twitter, after an initial post asking Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer if the Grand Slam should be held.
“Selfish with everything going on at the moment. Obviously Covid, but also with the riots, together we need to overcome these challenges before tennis returns in my opinion.”
The protests across the United States have been largely peaceful, with occasional arson and looting.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by xx)