Photo: Tennis World
Finishing with the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles is Novak Djokovic’s ultimate career goal.
The Serb won his 21st major title with victory at Wimbledon in July, leaving him one behind Rafael Nadal’s all-time men’s record.
But Djokovic’s decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has meant he has missed opportunities this year to add to his haul.
The 21 Grand Slam Open champion was unable to play in Melbourne and could also be missing at the US Open, although he recently said he had his “fingers crossed” and will be in the draw when the Grand Slam starts on August 29.
Djokovic, who was still on the US Open entry list as at Monday, has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and since October 2021 the United States has not allowed non-vaccinated visitors to enter the country.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s health protection agency, demands a non-US citizen must “show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19” before travelling by air from a foreign country.
The ruling stopped Djokovic from playing ATP Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami in March and April, along with last week’s Cincinnati Open.
He was also not allowed to play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal another Masters event that took place this month because of Canada’s ban on unvaccinated visitors.
When asked by a reporter at Wimbledon in June whether he had dismissed the option of getting a jab in order to compete in the United States, he replied “Yes”.
The CDC relaxed some of its Covid-19 restrictions on August 11, including bringing some rules for unvaccinated US citizens into line with those who are vaccinated.
Many people have questioned the scientific rationale behind not letting Djokovic enter the US, particularly since the CDC’s rules which allow unvaccinated Americans to travel overseas were updated.
But with a week to go until the Grand Slam tournament begins, there has been no further movement and time is running out for Djokovic.
Djokovic now world number six has long admitted he did not want to be vaccinated and told the BBC in February he was willing to sacrifice playing in the biggest tournaments to stick to his principles but added that he was not against the vaccine.
Not being vaccinated did not prevent Djokovic playing at the French Open or Wimbledon and, with most countries which host ATP events having now relaxed rules, the US Open could be one of the last events where this is an issue for the former world number one.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas; editing by Muzha Kucha