Novak Djokovic out of US Open as Covid vaccine rules remain

Serbian confirms he will not be playing in final Grand Slam of the season

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Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will not be competing at this year's US Open as he will not be allowed to enter the country due to Covid-19 vaccine rules.

Djokovic waited until just hours before the US Open draw before announcing his withdrawal from the tournament, in the hope that the US Government’s rules on unvaccinated foreigners being allowed to enter the country would be lifted in time for him to compete.

But with the border regulations still in place and Djokovic remaining opposed to receiving the vaccine, the 35-year-old will miss his second Grand Slam tournament of the season.

The 21-time Slam winner was denied the chance to defend his Australian Open at the start of the year after Djokovic’s visa was cancelled due to his refusal to have the Covid vaccine.

He has also sat out four significant tournaments in North America in 2022, including in Montreal and Cincinnati recently.

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to New York this time for the US Open,” Djokovic, who has won three times in New York and finished runner-up on six occasions, posted on Twitter. “Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.”

The Wimbledon champion said after his SW19 success in July that he was waiting “hopefully for some good news from USA”.

About three weeks later, Djokovic posted on social media that he was holding out hope of getting the chance to play in the US, writing: “I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!”

That led to him remaining on the entry list for the tournament that begins on Monday, despite not being in the country, but he has now withdrawn.

Djokovic’s omission hands Rafael Nadal an advantage as he aims to add to his 22 Grand Slam titles, while world No 1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev also has a smoother path. The draw for the final Grand Slam of the year takes place later on Thursday in New York.

The US Tennis Association has said all along it will follow government rules about vaccination status for this year’s Open.

There is no vaccine mandate at the tournament for players or their support teams will meaning that an unvaccinated American would be allowed to compete – and spectators will not be required to wear masks.

Tennis legend John McEnroe has blasted the Djokovic ban as a “joke”.

“At this point, in the pandemic, we're two and a half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can't travel here to play, to me is a joke,” said McEnroe.

Updated: August 25, 2022, 3:23 PM
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