Novak Djokovic cops bombshell blow in bid to play at US Open

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Novak Djokovic, pictured here at the US Open.
Novak Djokovic's chances of playing at the US Open appear dead and buried. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's hopes of playing at the US Open appear dead and buried after a key change on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Djokovic is currently barred from entering the United States because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19, while US border rules still requiring overseas visitors to show proof of vaccination to gain entry.

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However there was a chain of thought that those rules could soon be relaxed, allowing Djokovic to enter the United States and play in the final grand slam of the year.

The CDC website previously said under the 'travel' section: "The CDC is reviewing this page to align with updated guidance."

That came after the CDC changed a number of domestic rules which saw unvaccinated citizens granted the same rights as those who are vaccinated.

The message had Djokovic fans holding out hope that he might be allowed into the US after all, but on Wednesday the message disappeared.

The website now states that overseas travellers must be fully-vaccinated in order to enter the country, which appears to rule out any chance that Djokovic will play.

"One day before the US Open draw, the CDC has removed all reference to the review it is holding to bring the international travel rules into line with the domestic rules (vaccinated and unvaccinated people being treated the same). Probably it for Novak Djokovic now," journalist Sam Street tweeted.

Fury over Novak Djokovic's refusal to withdraw from US Open

Djokovic has been savaged by journalists and fellow players for his continued refusal to withdraw from the grand slam.

British player Liam Broady tweeted on Wednesday: “There should be a rule against late withdrawals from slams when you know you aren’t going to play.”

But after being bombarded by replies from Djokovic fans, Broady added: “This tweet isn’t about ND … I think ND still believes there’s a chance he plays. Totally fine.

"I’m against people who have acute injuries or just know way before the tournament they won’t be playing. It can cost the guy one out of main draw a lot of money as qualifying isn’t guaranteed.”

A spokesperson for the United States Tennis Association said on Wednesday that Djokovic would not be excluded from Thursday’s US Open draw, despite his chances of playing dwindling by the minute.

Any withdrawal between lunch time on Thursday (US time) and Monday morning will require the draw to be reshuffled because Djokovic is the fifth seed.

American tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg pointed out on Tuesday that because Djokovic hasn't withdrawn, another player hasn't moved up into the automatic spot for the main draw, therefore costing someone else the chance to play in qualifying.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after finishing runner-up at the US Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic was runner-up at the US Open in 2021. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

"If Djokovic wants to take the selfish route and wait as long as possible to the detriment of others, that’s his prerogative," Rothenberg tweeted.

"I’m just documenting this because it’s wild to see a star who can’t legally enter the US (because of his own choices) desperately clinging on like this."

American icon John McEnroe has been one of Djokovic's staunchest supporters, declaring it "BS" that the Serbian star isn't allowed into America.

“I think he should be allowed to play," McEnroe said.

“My personal opinion is, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve had a booster shot. That’s up to the individual.

“He’s won a lot more majors than me because he’s dug his heels in and found that will, that very few people in sport have ever found. That’s part of what made him so great, so he sticks to his guns.”

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