Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic withdraws from US Open as he can’t travel to United States

Novak Djokovic, the 21-time main champion and former world No. 1, has withdrawn from the US Open due to travel restrictions into the United States as a results of being unvaccinated towards COVID-19.

Djokovic made the announcement Thursday morning, shortly earlier than the draw was to be revealed, tweeting, “Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open.”

He wished luck to his fellow gamers and mentioned he would “keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.”

After winning Wimbledon in July, Djokovic had stated he had hoped the U.S. would change its policies, allowing him to play at the year’s final major, and appeared to be training for the tournament. He posted a video to Instagram on July 30 of himself practicing on a hard court.

“I’m getting ready as if I will likely be allowed to compete, whereas I await to hear if there may be any room for me to travel to [the] US,” he wrote alongside the clip.

But Djokovic was forced to withdraw from last week’s Western & Southern Open, as he was still barred from entry, as well as the National Bank Open earlier this month due to Canada’s similar restrictions.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on international travel was updated to say: “Non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants: You should present proof of being absolutely vaccinated with the first collection of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine earlier than you board your flight to the United States. Only restricted exceptions apply.”

Said Stacey Allaster, the US Open tournament director, in a statement: “Novak is a good champion and it is rather unlucky that he will likely be unable to compete on the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the nation due to the federal authorities’s vaccination coverage for non-U.S. residents. We look ahead to welcoming Novak again on the 2023 US Open.”

It has been a challenging year for Djokovic, who won three major titles in 2021. After receiving a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open in January and arriving in the country, he was embroiled in an international legal battle that resulted in him having his visa revoked and being deported from the country before the tournament got underway. He was unable to defend his title and later made it clear he was willing to skip tournaments that required him to be vaccinated in order to play or enter the respective country.

“Yes, that’s the value that I’m keen to pay,” Djokovic mentioned in a February interview with the BBC.

Djokovic performed in only one occasion, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, earlier than the clay portion of the season began in April. He was changed atop the rankings by Daniil Medvedev for the primary time in February. Djokovic reclaimed the No. 1 spot the next month however misplaced it once more in June.

He received his first title of the yr in Rome in May however was unable to defend his French Open title, dropping to eventual champion Rafael Nadal within the quarterfinals. Djokovic earned his fourth straight trophy on the All England Club final month however obtained no rating factors for his efforts as a consequence of the ban on Russian and Belarusian gamers. He fell to No. 7 within the rankings after the event and is at the moment No. 6.

Having reached the ultimate on the 2021 US Open, Djokovic will lose a further 1,200 factors and his rating will drop additional on the conclusion of the occasion.

Djokovic is subsequent anticipated to play for the Serbian workforce on the Davis Cup or for the European workforce on the Laver Cup. Ranking factors aren’t awarded at both occasion. There aren’t any tournaments listed on his present schedule on his web site.

A fortunate loser from qualifying will change Djokovic within the draw.

Among the opposite gamers who won’t be on the US Open for numerous causes are No. 2-ranked Alexander Zverev, the 2020 runner-up in New York; 2016 champion Angelique Kerber; 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova; Gael Monfils; and Reilly Opelka.

Play is scheduled to start at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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