Novak Djokovic’s hopes of playing the US Open this year have been all but dashed after the tournament confirmed they’d be respecting the US government’s stance that all non-US citizens that enter the country be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 2022 Wimbledon champion missed out on the Australian Open earlier this year as a result of his decision not to get vaccinated.
Djokovic has continued to stand by that stance with changing rules allowing him to compete at both the French Open and Wimbledon in recent months.
The Serbian star was named in an initial draw of players for the upcoming US Open based on his ranking but organisers ultimately clarified that it did not mean he’d be allow to play.
“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, 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,” a statement from the US Open read.
“The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens.”
Our men’s and women’s singles entry lists have been released.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) July 20, 2022
Speaking after defeating Nick Kyrgios in the men’s singles final at Wimbledon in early July, Djokovic admitted it was unlikely that he’d be able to chase a fourth US Open title in 2022.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” Djokovic said.
“I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what (the) exemption would be about. I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there.”
While Djokovic may be coming to terms with a likely US Open absence, some tennis fans are refusing to accept it.
A petition to allow him to play the Grand Slam event was created on Change.org in June and has now amassed over 18,000 signatures as it closes in on its target of 25,000.
“There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the US Open 2022,” the petition’s statement reads.
“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 US Open begins on August 29 and will run until September 11.