Novak Djokovic handed blow as US Open confirms travel policy for unvaccinated players

After winning a seventh Wimbledon crown in London this month, Novak Djokovic’s hopes of adding another Grand Slam title to his tally of 21 have taken a hit after the US Open has announced that it will honour the country’s mandate regarding travel for unvaccinated non-US citizens.

Djokovic’s contentious anti-vaccination stance has barred him from playing a full schedule of tournaments this year and even resulted in his high-profile deportation from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.

The Serb, as well as any other unvaccinated players hailing from other parts of the world, will not be allowed to play the US Open since they will not be allowed to enter the country’s borders.

In a statement along with the release of the player lists for the men’s and women’s singles events – in which Djokovic is named merely as a formality – the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said: “Per the ITF Grand Slam rulebook, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main-draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.

“The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.

If the United States and Australia’s rules on letting unvaccinated people into their countries are not loosened, Djokovic could be looking at the possibility of playing his next Major at the 2023 French Open. The Serb has currently slipped to World No. 7 in the ATP rankings.

Petition to let Djokovic play

In June, a petition on calling for the body to let the 35-year-old play the American Major went up. Following the USTA’s statement, the petition — which is aiming to amass 25,000 signatures — has seen a remarkable amount of traction, reaching 22,000 signatures early on Thursday.

The petition reads: “There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022. US Government and USTA must work together to allow him to play. If unvaccinated American players can play, Djokovic as one of the legends of the game must be allowed to play. MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA!”

The World No. 7 has already lost ground to rival Rafael Nadal in the all-time Slam race, who won the Australian Open in his absence and defeated him en route to a 14th French Open triumph. Nadal, whose tally stands at 22, could race away even further in New York.

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