US Open ‘Very Hopeful’ Novak Djokovic Will Play in Grand Slam Despite Vaccine Status
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United States Tennis Association managing director Chris Widmaier expressed hope Saturday that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be permitted to play in this year’s U.S. Open.
The United States government still has regulations in place that prevent foreign citizens who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 from entering the country. Djokovic is not vaccinated, but Widmaier is hopeful the restrictions will be eased by the time the 2023 U.S. Open begins in August, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press:
“Policies concerning access to the United States are determined by the White House. We are very hopeful that the policy preventing Novak Djokovic from entering the United States will be rescinded, or lapse, in the near future. No COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the U.S. Open for any player, fan or other attendee. Novak, one of our sport’s great champions, would be welcome to compete at the 2023 U.S. Open.”
Djokovic did not play in last year’s U.S. Open or Australian Open due to his vaccination status, but with Australia changing its regulations since last year, Djokovic returned to Melbourne in January and won the tournament for the 10th time in his career.
Because of his vaccination status, Djokovic has already had to withdraw from the Miami Open and BNP Paribas Open, which are the first two Masters 1000 events of the 2023 season.
While Djokovic was not permitted to play in the United States or Australia last year, he did participate in two Grand Slam tournaments in the form of the French Open and Wimbledon.
Djokovic was ousted in the quarterfinals of the French Open, but he managed to win Wimbledon and has now won at least one Grand Slam singles title in six consecutive years.
By winning the 2023 Australian Open, Djokovic has 22 career Grand Slam singles titles, tying him with Rafael Nadal for the all-time men’s record.
Three of Djokovic’s historic number of Grand Slam wins have come at the U.S. Open, which is his second-fewest wins at a Grand Slam behind his two French Opens.
The Serb last won the U.S. Open in 2018, and he previously won it in 2011 and 2015. Since Djokovic’s last U.S. Open win, he has lost in the fourth round twice and fell to Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final, preventing him from winning the calendar Slam.
Since winning the 2023 Australian Open, Djokovic has only played in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Earlier this month, Medvedev beat him in the semifinals of the tournament.
Maintaining the No. 1 ranking in the world will be a challenge for Djokovic if he remains unable to enter the U.S., but many of the major tournaments in the spring and summer will be played in Europe in anticipation of the French Open and Wimbledon.
While Djokovic’s status for the U.S. Open remains unclear, he will have at least two opportunities this year to establish himself as the male player with the most Grand Slam titles.