Djokovic could miss second Grand Slam after French vaccination law is passed

By Sports Desk January 17, 2022

Novak Djokovic could miss out on defending another of his Grand Slam titles, with France passing new vaccination laws that may threaten his ability to compete at Roland Garros later this year.

The 34-year-old will not defend his Australian Open title, with a drawn-out saga concerning his vaccination status culminating in his visa being cancelled for a second time after an intervention from Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke.

But the controversy surrounding the 20-time Grand Slam winner could be set to continue, with French parliament passing stringent vaccination laws ahead of May's French Open.

After French lawmakers comfortably passed the new measures, proof of vaccination status will soon be required to enter a wide variety of public places, including sports stadiums, and the country's sports ministry says there will be no exemptions for professional athletes. 

"The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass," the ministry said.

"This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson, and until further notice.

"Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it is in May. The situation may change between now and then, and we hope that it will be more favourable. 

"So, we'll see, but clearly, there's no exemption."

 

Djokovic, who is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for all-time Slam wins in the men's game, has come in for widespread criticism regarding his failure to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as for appearing in public in the days after testing positive for the virus last month.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has arrived back in his native Serbia, travelling via Dubai from Melbourne to Belgrade after losing a last-ditch court appeal to remain in the country.

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    The two played for three hours and 16 minutes on Saturday – the longest WTA final of the year – with Kerber eventually sealing it 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (0-7) 7-6 (7-5) to win her first clay court trophy in over six years.

    In their only previous meeting in 2020, Juvan upset the former world number one at the French Open, and the 21-year-old gave Kerber another scare here.

    There were three breaks of serve each in the first set, with neither able to take control, before the German edged the first of the trio of tie-breaks.

    Juvan and Kerber exchanged two breaks each in the second, though it was the Slovenian who was finding more opportunities, forcing the number two seed to save eight further break points across the set, before dominating the second breaker.

    Neither was able to pull away in the third, with Kerber breaking early, before Juvan hit right back. It felt inevitable that the third set would follow the first two in going to a tie-break, and so it proved.

    Kerber finally put her determined opponent away and paid tribute to the world number 81 in her maiden WTA final during her on-court interview, saying: "Well done Kaja, you played a great week and also a tough final... I wish you all the best in Paris [the French Open] so good luck there."

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    Trevisan dedicated the win to her father, saying: "I would like to dedicate this trophy to my dad. He can't see me in this moment but I know he would be very proud of me. He is a fighter like me during this week, but during his whole life - so this is for you, dad."

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    The world number nine has now won six of his last seven ATP 250 events on clay, and is the first player since Stan Wawrinka (2016 and 2017) to win more than one Geneva Open title.

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    "It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played," he said in his on-court interview. "It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis.

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    "I had chances to close the matches in straight sets this week and get it done easier than usual and it didn't go that way and I was able to let that go and respond. In the third set I moved really well and it is nice to get over the line."

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