Novak Djokovic to miss US Open over vaccine restrictions

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Following months of speculation over whether Novak Djokovic would be able to compete at the U.S. Open this month because of his vaccine status, the 21-time Grand Slam champion confirmed Thursday that he would not be traveling to New York. 

Djokovic made the announcement on social media as a result of travel restrictions that prevent any non-U.S. citizens from entering the country without the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” the Serbian tennis pro wrote on Twitter. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support.”

Novak Djokovic returns the ball during an exhibition match in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 13, 2022. 
(Nedim Grabovica/Xinhua via Getty Images)

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“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 soon tennis world!”

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) provided a statement last month announcing that while the tournament does not have a vaccine mandate, it will adhere to federal policy.

Novak Djokovic tries to return the ball to Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match of the French Open at the Roland Garros stadium, May 31, 2022, in Paris.

Novak Djokovic tries to return the ball to Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match of the French Open at the Roland Garros stadium, May 31, 2022, in Paris.
(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

“The U.S. Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens,” the USTA said at the time. 

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Earlier this month, Djokovic withdrew from the Canadian Open over a similar mandate for travelers. 

After beating Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final on July 10, he said he “would love” to participate in the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, but also acknowledged, “I’m not planning to get vaccinated.”

Novak Djokovic wipes the sweat off during a training session at the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, April 30, 2022.

Novak Djokovic wipes the sweat off during a training session at the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, April 30, 2022.
(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

Djokovic had been holding out hope that he would be allowed to travel to the U.S. to compete for his record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title, three of which came from U.S. Open victories. 

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Djokovic has spent more weeks at No. 1 than anyone else in the history of the ATP rankings. He is No. 6 this week, in part because no rankings points were awarded at Wimbledon this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.