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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday June 16, 2020

 
Noah Rubin

Noah Rubin has taken shots at World No.1 Novak Djokovic for what the American perceives as a lack of support for lower-ranked players.

Photo Source: AP

Note: This article has been edited as of 3 PM EST on 6/16/2020 to reflect the US Open's official decision to hold the tournament.

American World No.225 Noah Rubin has unleashed some harsh criticism on players that are reluctant to play the 2020 US Open due to its plan to enforce strict health and safety codes such as limiting player entourages and requiring players stay at a hotel near JFK without venturing into Manhattan during the tournament.

Tennis Express

Rubin, speaking on the Behind the Racquet Podcast with Mike Cation, took the side of the many lower-ranked players who hope to play this year’s US Open in order to earn a financial reprieve in a year that has seen their income devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Open is close to locking in a plan to hold the tournament without spectators and has offered to payout 95 percent of 2019 prize money, a hefty amount given the economic situation.

UPDATE: The USTA has officially declared that it will hold the tournament, without spectators, on its scheduled date, after New York governor Andrew Cuomo released the following tweet on Tuesday:


But many top players, including World No.1 Novak Djokovic, appear to be shying away from New York and the strict regulations that could lie in wait for them there. Djokovic expressed his reluctance to play the US Open due to what he called “extreme” measures, such as the limiting of player entourages to just one coach.

Noah railed against it today, in an f-bomb laced conversation with Cation.

“We’re giving you that prize money, and you’re complaining that the physios at the ATP might not be good enough for your two weeks there?" he said. "Shut the f*** up. Just understand what is actually taking place.”


Rubin hadn’t named names at this juncture of the podcast, but his words could easily be considered a shot across the bow of Djokovic.

But the World No.1 is one of many players that have expressed trepidations about dealing with the US Open's plan for strict safety regulations. Simona Halep has expressed similar concerns, while other players, such as Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, John Millman and Ashleigh Barty seem less than excited about playing in New York, the hardest-hit city in the naion that has been hardest-hit by the pandemic.

It should be noted that Rubin has gone on record saying that he believes that the 2020 tennis season should be scrapped. He is of the belief that the sport would be better served by taking time to fix its many issues, such as infighting and a platform that doesn’t engage young fans.

Now is the time for players to gain consensus and speak out for and against; there is still time to be heard before the US Open announces the official details of its health and safety protocols and many players are no doubt interested in seeing them loosened.

The tournament is officially a lock but concerns still linger about the amount of support the tournament will get from top players.

Rubin also called out Djokovic for not being on the ATP’s Zoom call last week in which over 400 ATP players and coaches joined to have the chance to meet and talk with officials from the ATP and the USTA.

Rubin was on the call and said that ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi and officials from the USTA seemed shocked at just how little support they were getting from many of the players.

The American believes that Djokovic should be doing more to support the tournament as the President of the ATP’s player council, and he feels that Djokovic should have, at the very least, joined on the call.

“I have been crucified for saying this kind of stuff,” Rubin said. “If Djokovic wants to be at the forefront—I’ve put away Nadal and Federer because I haven’t spoken to them at all—but Djokovic I have. Obviously these pictures of him playing soccer have surfaced, so you can make time for that but you can’t get on a Zoom call for 30 seconds, a minute and a half to share, to know that you’re a part of something, that I can talk to you?”

Djokovic spent the weekend hosting players for a tournament in his hometown of Belgrade, Serbia known as the Adria Tour. He has played an active role in the tour’s leadership and continues to do so, so not being present at a meeting is certainly not proof of any negligence on the Serb’s part.

No doubt Djokovic’s feelings on the US Open are shared by many other players for many different reasons, one being that there is another Grand Slam scheduled in Paris a week after the US Open final, in a region that is far better off in terms of its pandemic response and overall safety.

It needs to be said that there are longstanding issues between the players and the Slams in terms of revenue sharing percentages, and perhaps those issues are shaping the narrative in ways that the public is not hearing about.

Naturally, Americans for the most part are in support of playing the Open. It’s their home Slam and the travel promises to be far less complicated from inside the United States. Many need the money and some desperately.


Players outside the United States have different concerns. Many have voiced concerns that they might end up marooned in the United States when a speedy departure after the tournament is of the utmost importance.

The situation is highly complicated, and it’s a matter of personal choice for many players. It’s not hard to understand why many are not excited about the prospects of playing in America, a country that is currently mired in the double-whammy of the pandemic and three heated weeks of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Djokovic’s personal interests might be out of sync with some, but in line with others.

Rubin is aligning himself firmly against him at the moment.

“If you want to look out for yourself, look out for yourself—the sport was built for that,” said Rubin. “If I can’t get in touch with you, if you’re not helping me out, if you can’t get in on a f****** Zoom call, then what is the point of this?”

“There are bigger things out there. There’s riots, we’re still facing race and equality right now. I don’t give a shit if you have one or two people there. Go on a F******lacrosse ball, massage your own F****** body, okay? There are big things happenings, we just have to look out for each other.”


 

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