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25 Aug, 2022 07:35

Djokovic dealt potentially decisive blow

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has updated its Covid rules
Djokovic dealt potentially decisive blow

Novak Djokovic’s slim chances of being handed a dramatic late entry to the US Open appear to be over after American travel information still included a Covid-19 vaccine requirement for non-citizens.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) posted ‘updated’ rules on Wednesday, August 24, although the vaccine mandate was still in place for foreign travelers.

“Non-US citizen, non-US immigrants: You must show proof of being fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted Covid-19 vaccine before you board your flight to the United States. Only limited exceptions apply,” read a paragraph on the website for the national public health agency.

Djokovic, 35, had held out hope that the CDC could change its guidelines after relaxing some Covid requirements in recent weeks. 

Prior to Wednesday, the agency’s website had said it was “reviewing this page to align with updated guidance.”

Serbian star Djokovic has continued to train fully for the US Open, which gets underway next week.

The tournament itself does not have a vaccine mandate in place for players, but organizers have said they respect American government rules.

Despite the situation, Djokovic is still set to be included in Thursday’s draw even though his chances of playing appear to be all but over.

Sports journalist Sam Street tweeted that the news from the CDC was “probably it” in terms of the possibility of Djokovic making the tournament.

Elsewhere, American journalist Clay Travis suggested it could still “go to the wire” considering Djokovic has not formally withdrawn.  

Djokovic repeated after his Wimbledon triumph last month that he was not willing to change his stance and get jabbed against coronavirus, even if that meant passing up the chance to add to his haul of 21 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic missed the Australian Open at the start of the year after being deported from the country in a row over his vaccine status. He has also been forced to skip several high-profile North American events, including the Cincinnati Masters and Canadian Open earlier in August.

The situation has drawn criticism from some prominent tennis figures, including American legend John McEnroe. The seven-time Grand Slam winner has described the US government’s stance as a “joke” and accused politicians of “getting in the way too much.”

In another sign that three-time New York champion Djokovic will certainly miss this year’s event, he was absent from a pre-tournament poster shared by organizers this week.

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia – who beat Djokovic in last year’s final – will be seeded first at Flushing Meadows.

Four-time winner Rafael Nadal will also be present after returning from the lingering abdominal injury which ruled him out of the Wimbledon semifinals.

World number two Alexander Zverev will not be among the line-up, however, after failing to return to full fitness after ankle surgery following his injury at the French Open back in June.