Novak Djokovic US Open saga: Everything said as Wimbledon champion faces potential ban

Novak Djokovic is in the midst of an anxious wait to find out whether he can compete at the US Open. America currently prohibits unvaccinated travellers from entering the country and with just over five weeks until the final Grand Slam of the year begins, time is running out for the world No 7 in his hope that restrictions are relaxed.

Djokovic’s situation has created headlines, with several American political figures slamming the ban, while pros like John McEnroe have asked for things to be “sorted out” while a petition urging the government to let him into the country has surpassed 12,000 signatures, but the US Open itself has confirmed that it will be following government guidelines on unvaccinated. Express Sport takes a look at everything that has been said in the ongoing saga.

Novak Djokovic

Unlike the Australian Open, the 21-time Major champion won’t be seeking out a medical exemption and believes the government lifting the rules is likely the only way he can play in New York next month. After winning Wimbledon, he said: “I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there.

“That would be probably the next big tournament, the next big swing, playing a tournament or two before US Open and US Open. If that doesn’t happen, then I have to see what the schedule will look like. To be honest, I doubt that I’ll go and chase points.”

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Goran Ivanisevic – Djokovic’s coach

The Croat admitted he didn’t know what could happen, joking that he would likely be taking a “long” holiday as he played down the chance of Djokovic getting to the US Open and its preceding tournaments, the Masters in Montreal and Cincinnati. “I going to have vacation from today, I don’t know till when. I don’t know. Maybe Biden will change his mind,” he said after the Serb’s Wimbledon win.

But he has grown pessimistic about his charge’s hopes of making it to America, and earlier in the week the retired 50-year-old said he had a better chance of winning next week’s tournament in Umag than Djokovic did at getting to the US Open, saying: “I am more optimistic that I will win Umag if I get an invitation from Tomislav [Poljak, tournament director], than Djokovic will triumph at the US Open.”

The US Open

Djokovic’s name appeared in the US Open’s entry list on Wednesday, with some taking it as a sign that the 21-time Major champion would be able to play the tournament. But the US open quickly issued a statement clarifying his inclusion, and confirming they would follow all guidance from the government on the 35-year-old and other unjabbed travellers.

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They wrote: “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. The US 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.”

US politicians

Several American politicians have started to pile the pressure on Joe Biden to loosen travel restrictions and allow Djokovic to compete at the US Open. Ted Cruz became the highest-profile figure to speak out, telling the Daily Mail that he wanted the President to: “Let Novak Djokovic play.”

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said it was “absurd” the Serb couldn’t enter the country and accused Biden of “pushing for a forever pandemic.” One of Donald Trump’s former aides Richard Grenell said the ban “cheapened” the US Open while Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, Texas State Senator Drew Springer, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New York Congresswoman Claudia Tenney have also called for Djokovic and other unjabbed travellers to be allowed into the country.

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