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Three-time champion Novak Djokovic to miss US Open due to vaccination status

Bengaluru, Aug 25: Once again, the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic is set to miss a Grand Slam. It doesn't come as a surprise, but it is a definitely a big blow as Djokovic will miss his second Grand Slam due to his vaccination status.

Djokovic will not play in the upcoming US Open because he is unvaccinated and will not be able to travel to the United States.

The Serbian, who owns 21 major championships, made the announcement on social media on Thursday. Taking to Twitter, the 35-year-old Djokovic wrote, "Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open. Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support.

Djoko went on to wish his fellow players luck, while adding that he looks forward to competing again. "Good luck to my fellow players! I'll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soo tennis world," wrote the Serbian tennis player.

The 2022 edition of the US Open, is set to get under way Flushing Meadows on Monday (Aug 29th). With 21 Grand Slam titles in the bag, Djokovic lies second behind Rafael Nadal, who holds the men's record with 22 Grand Slam titles.

It'll be a big blow to both the tournament and to the player as Djokovic, who has won the tournament in 2011, 2015 and 2018, will miss a big opportunity to add another piece of silverware to his trophy-laden cabinet. Apart from three US Open winning campaigns, Djokovic has also finished runner-up a half-dozen times, including last season, when he was pursuing the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's tennis since 1969. But Djokovic lost is the final as he went down to Daniil Medvedev.

As per vaccination rules in the United States, foreign citizens who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 are unable to enter the US or Canada. Djokovic has been vocal about his anti-vaccination stance and said that even if he misses out on major tournaments, he will not get vaccinated for covid-19. This is the second Grand Slam Djokovic is set to miss due to his vaccination status, after he was sent back from the Australian Open.

Djokovic's withdrawal didn't come as a surprise as the US Tennis Association has always maintained that it will follow the rules of the government for this year's Open, when it comes to vaccination status.

As there is no vaccination mandate at the tournament, the vaccination rules will not affect local players. This means an unvaccinated American would be allowed to participate and it is not mandatory for spectators to wear masks. But players coming from outside the country, will have to be vaccinated to enter the country.

In January, major drama unfolded in Melbourne with the end result being that Djokovic had to be deported. After a protracted legal saga that ended with his deportation as he was not vaccinated saw Djokovic miss the season's opening Grand Slam.

Not only the Australian Open and the US Open, Djokovic's unvaccinated status saw him miss important tournaments in North America this year, including Montreal and Cincinnati.
In the other two majors this year, Djokovic lost to Nadal in the quarterfinals of the French Open, while he won the Wimbledon.

Following his win in Wimbledon on July 10, Djokovic had said that he would love to participate in the final Grand Slam of the year, but he said, "I'm not planning to get vaccinated."

But still holding onto hopes, Djokovic has posted on social media that he was preparing for the US Open and was hoping was for a chance to play. Taking to social media, he had written, "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!"

All in all, his unvaccinated status, saw Djokovic lose out on not one but two Grand Slams this year and the only one which he won, was Wimbledon, where no ranking points were awarded.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Story first published: Thursday, August 25, 2022, 21:08 [IST]
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