US Open ‘very hopeful’ unvaccinated Novak Djokovic can play

After Novak Djokovic withdrew from tournaments in Florida and California because he is still unable to travel to the United States as a foreign citizen who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, a spokesman for the US Tennis Association said on Saturday the group is “very hopeful” the top-ranked player will be allowed in for the US Open in August.

“Policy regarding access to the United States is determined by the White House. We are very confident that the policy preventing Novak Djokovic from entering the United States will be lifted or lapsed in the near future,” USTA’s Chris Widmaier wrote to The Associated Press. “The US Open has no COVID-19 restrictions on players, fans or other participants. Novak, one of the great champions of our sport, would be cordially invited to compete at the US Open 2023.”

The two-week US Open begins August 28 in Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic, a 35-year-old Serb, couldn’t make it to New York for the last Grand Slam tournament of the season in 2022 when he also missed the Miami Open and the BNP Paribas Open because he never got the vaccinations because of the illness Coronavirus.

As a six-time Miami Open champion, Djokovic is off the field for the event that begins next week, a Miami Open spokesman said on Saturday.

Djokovic is No. 1 in the ATP rankings and with 22 Grand Slam titles, level on points with Rafael Nadal – who is injured and also won’t be in Miami – the record for most titles won by a man. In 2023 Djokovic is 15: 1 with two titles, including at the Australian Open in January.

But he will now have missed the first two Masters 1000 events of the season. He also withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, which ends this weekend.

Back in April 2020, as the pandemic raged, Djokovic said he was opposed to having to be vaccinated to travel. He later said he would not get vaccinated even if it meant missing tournaments.

In January 2022, he applied for an exemption to participate in the Australian Open and traveled to Melbourne. But after his case went to court, his visa was revoked and Djokovic was expelled from the country.

Since then, pandemic restrictions have been eased in Australia and Djokovic returned without issue this year, winning the first major championship of the season.

Meanwhile, Nadal has been sidelined since injuring his left hip flexor in a second-round loss at Melbourne Park. He wants to return to action at the Monte Carlo Masters next month.

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