The unvaccinated Novak Djokovic withdraws from the US Open as he is unable to travel to the US

Novak Djokovicthe 21-time major champion and former world No. 1, has withdrawn from the upcoming US Open due to travel restrictions to the United States as he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic made the announcement on Thursday morning just before the draw was due to be announced. “Unfortunately I can’t travel to the US Open in New York this time,” he tweeted.

He also wished his teammates the best of luck, saying he will “stay in good form and positive spirits and will wait for an opportunity to compete again”.

After winning Wimbledon in July, Djokovic had said he had hoped the US would change their policy and allow him to play at the final Major of the year and appeared to be training for the tournament. He posted a video on Instagram on July 30th practicing by yourself on a hard court.

“I am preparing as if I am allowed to compete while waiting to hear if there is a place I can travel to [the] US,” he wrote alongside the clip.

But Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from last week’s Western & Southern Open while still barred from entering the country, as well as from the National Bank Open earlier this month due to similar restrictions in Canada.

On Wednesday, the CDC’s guidance on international travel was updated to read: “Non-US citizens, non-US immigrants: You must demonstrate that you are fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine before traveling into Board your flight to the United States. Only limited exceptions apply.”

US Open Tournament Director Stacey Allaster said in a statement: “Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will not be able to compete in the 2022 US Open as he is unable to enter the country due to federal vaccination policies Government for non-US citizens. We look forward to welcoming Novak back to the US Open in 2023.”

It’s been a challenging year for Djokovic, who won three major titles in 2021. After obtaining a TUE to compete in the Australian Open and arriving in the country in January, he was embroiled in an international legal battle that resulted in him having his visa revoked and expelled from the country before the tournament began. Failing to defend his title, he later made it clear he was willing to skip tournaments that required him to be vaccinated in order to play or enter the country.

“Yes, that’s the price I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic said said in a February interview with the BBC.

Djokovic only played in one event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates before the clay portion of the season started in April. He was replaced at the top of the rankings by Daniel Medvedev for the first time in February. Djokovic reclaimed first place the following month but lost it again in June.

He won his first title of the year in Rome in May but failed to defend his French Open title, losing to the eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Djokovic won his fourth straight trophy at the All England Club last month but didn’t receive any ranking points for his efforts due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players. He dropped to 7th on the leaderboard after the tournament and is currently 6th.

After reaching the final at the 2021 US Open, Djokovic will lose another 1,200 points and his ranking will continue to drop at the end of the event.

Djokovic is expected to play next for the Serbian team at the Davis Cup or for the European team at the Laver Cup. Ranking points are not awarded at either event. There are no tournaments listed in his current schedule on his website.

A lucky loser from qualifying replaces Djokovic in the draw.

Among the other players who will not be at the US Open for various reasons is number 2 Alexander Zverev, the 2020 New York runner-up; Champion 2016 Angelica Kerber; Finalist of the French Open 2019 Marketa Vondrousova; Gael Monfils and Reilly Opelka.

The game is scheduled to start at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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