Djokovic senses US Open chance as he prepares for Flushing Meadows tilt

By Sports Desk July 30, 2022

Novak Djokovic hopes he could still be allowed to play at the US Open despite refusing a coronavirus vaccination.

The 35-year-old Wimbledon champion has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

Djokovic said in a statement on Saturday: "I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!"

With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors.

Djokovic was not allowed to play in Australia, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The three-time US Open winner senses a pull of public support for his situation, as he insists he will not consider receiving a vaccine.

In his message on Saturday, Djokovic said: "I just wanted to take a moment and say to all of you how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all around the world these days.

"I wasn't expecting it, and that's why it feels so mindblowing. Just wanted to say THANK YOU.

"It feels special that people connect with my tennis career in such a loving and supportive way and wish for me to continue to compete."

He has found backing from John McEnroe, the American tennis great, who told Tennis 365 in July: "I hope someone finds a way to sort this out. It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's men's singles final in New York, when the current entry rules were not in place.

Senator Marsha Blackburn also spoke out, saying last week that it was "absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the USA".

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