Tennis icon hammers US politicians over Djokovic ban
American tennis legend John McEnroe has attacked politicians in his homeland for “getting in the way” of Novak Djokovic’s quest for more Grand Slam titles, with the Serb set to miss the US Open later this year because of vaccine requirements.
As things stand, Djokovic will not be able to compete in New York because foreigners must be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the US.
Djokovic, 35, repeated after his Wimbledon triumph against Nick Kyrgios on Sunday that he was not planning to change his stance on getting the jab.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” said the star.
After Djokovic was deported from Australia at the start of the year in a row over his vaccination status, US legend McEnroe has decried the “politics” which are hindering the 21-time Grand Slam champion in his pursuit of more titles.
“These politicians are getting in the way too much,” McEnroe said on ESPN.
“They did it in Australia. Let’s let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean, come on. This is ridiculous.”
McEnroe, 63, added that “whatever you think the government should or should not do, it’s a bummer for tennis” that Djokovic is set to miss the action at Flushing Meadows when it gets underway in August.
The current situation means that unvaccinated US stars such as Tennys Sandgren will likely be allowed to play by virtue of his nationality, while Djokovic won’t because he won’t be able to enter the country.
“Pretty shameful that the USTA [US Tennis Association] won’t fight for an exemption for Novak. No surprise the government hasn’t changed its archaic policy. I can play but he can’t? Ridiculous,” Sandgren tweeted last month.
After winning a seventh Wimbledon title by overcoming a gritty Nick Kyrgios on Sunday, Djokovic said he would be taking a well-earned rest before assessing what comes next.
“I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there,” said the Serb.
“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,” added Djokovic, although he has admitted he is not optimistic of an exemption to allow him entry to the US.
Djokovic’s deportation from Australia in January means that he could also be forced to miss next year’s Grand Slam in Melbourne due to Australian laws on visa applications.
That would make the French Open in May 2023 the next opportunity Djokovic has to win a Grand Slam.
Djokovic’s Wimbledon triumph moved him to within one Grand Slam title of Rafael Nadal’s record overall tally of 22.
Djokovic has won three US Open titles in the past, and was beaten in last year’s final by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
Djokovic has said previously that he is willing to sacrifice the chance to win more titles rather than back down and get vaccinated against Covid-19.