NOVAK DJOKOVIC is considering skipping next month’s US Open, meaning the Slam could be without its three biggest male stars.
Defending champion Rafa Nadal has cast doubt over flying to New York because he would prefer to stay in Europe and play the clay-court season instead.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is out injured for the rest of the year following knee surgery.
Now, in another blow to US Open chiefs, world No.1 Djokovic says he is likely to forgo the hard-court Slam and play the Madrid Open instead.
The event in the Spanish capital starts on Monday September 14 – one day after the men’s final at Flushing Meadows.
Speaking to Serbian media, Djokovic said: “I’m not sure I’ll play in the US Open.
“I plan to play Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros in September.
“I fully support the USTA wish to hold tournaments in Washington, Cincinnati and the US Open because it’s very important for the survival of many tennis professionals.
“Like everyone, we are going through economic difficulties.
“Personally, I don’t have that kind of pressure that the others feel.
“I’m not sure I’ll play in the US Open. I plan to play Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros in September.
“And of course I understand them because the vast majority need to play now and earn money.
“I salute to the efforts being made to hold tournaments, especially in the USA and in Europe, despite this big crisis, but there is a limit to everything.”
Every single Slam this century has involved at least one of the Big Three players of men’s tennis.
The 1999 US Open was the last time the main draw of a Grand Slam singles event did not have at least Federer, Nadal or Djokovic playing.
Djokovic, 33, claims he was victim of a “witch-hunt” following “malicious” criticism over his shambolic Adria Tour.
The Serbian and his wife Jelena tested positive for Covid-19 after ignoring social-distancing rules at his Eastern European event.
The second leg of the charity tennis exhibition in Croatia was cancelled when Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov became the first of four players involved to be diagnosed with the killer bug.
Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic also tested positive.
Though he apologised on social media for the outbreak and not taking heath and safety advice more seriously, Djokovic now believes there was an “agenda” against him.
In his first interview in his homeland, Djokovic said: “Lately, I only see criticism, very malicious.
“Obviously, there is something more than that criticism, as if there is an agenda, as if it were a witch hunt.
“Someone has to fall, some person, some big name to be the main culprit for everything.
“I leave it to others to say if that is fair. I don’t think it is, I think that we must learn from all of this and to adapt as we go along.”