Djokovic Hoping For A Miracle That Allows Him To Equal Grand Slam Record At US Open

Under current US immigration law Djokovic’s continued refusal to be vaccinated against Covid will see him barred from entry into the country
11:10, 11 Jul 2022

Newly crowned Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is still hoping for a miracle that will allow him to try and equal Rafa Nadal’s record total of 22 grand slam singles titles at the US Open starting at the end of August. 

The 35-year- old Serb beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in four sets on Sunday to win his seventh Wimbledon crown, fourth in a row and 21st slam title in total to leave him just one shy of the Spaniard in the all-time pantheon of greats. 

But as things stand under current US immigration law Djokovic’s continued refusal to be vaccinated against Covid will see him barred from entry into the country, making it impossible for him to compete in New York.


The Australian government deported Djokovic in Australia after cancelling his visa meaning he could not compete in Melbourne - where he has lifted the trophy no fewer than nine times. The federal government feared he could stoke ‘anti-vaccine sentiment’. 

And the raw nature of feelings on both sides was demonstrated by an online row between prominent American tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg and Djokovic’s wife Jelena on Sunday. With Djokovic having ruled out being vaccinated, Rothenberg noted that he was, whether wittingly or unwittingly, “entrenching himself as an anti-vax posterboy”. 

This brought a stinging response from Jelena, accusing Rothenberg of being judgmental, defending her husband’s body choices and further adding “I hope you don’t become a poster boy for bullying and bullying”. 

In the past Djokovic has said: “I understand not being vaccinated today, I'm unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment. That is the price that I'm willing to pay.” 

But speaking after his latest triumph about both the situation in the USA and his future plans, he said: “I am on vacation. Whether or not I'm playing any tournament soon, I'll definitely be resting for the next couple weeks because it has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me the last few months. A lot of tennis, which I was very happy about. I got what I wanted here. 

“Then 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 the 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. As I understand from my agent today, winning a grand slam would qualify you for World Tour Finals unless you're out of the top 20, which I don't know. With accumulated points so far, I guess I'll make top 20. 

“I guess I have a good chance to be already in the Finals. I will not burden myself to really have to go and play tournaments and get points. I'll see. I don't really feel any pressure or necessity to play a certain schedule. And things have changed in the last year, year and a half for me. I achieved that historic No1, weeks at No1, that I worked for all my life. Now that that's done and dusted, I prioritise slams and big tournaments really and where I want to play, where I feel good. 

“We still have not spoken about the schedule, Goran and I. We have to sit down and see what the news are from States and whether that's happening or not happening, then take it from there. 

“It could be Laver Cup, Davis Cup is coming as well. I love playing for my country. I am going to try to be part of that. Next thing you know the season is over, right? Those are the big, let's say, tournaments that I have right now in my mind. 

“As regards the US Open I mean, 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 an exemption. 

“I don't know. I don't think an exemption is realistically possible. If that is a possibility, I don't know what the exemption would be about. I don't have many answers there. I think it's just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to the USA.” 

There is no doubt that the Australian government’s refusal to back down for a major star and hold a very hard line on Covid vaccination, resulting in the very public humiliation for Djokovic, took its toll on the player – making his return to the winner’s enclosure at Wimbledon a greater feat. 

He added: “Everything that has followed Australia, particularly in the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. Once I left Australia, I left that behind me. I was ready to move on. 

“Then it wasn't that easy to close that chapter because then I had the media and all of you guys reminding me of that. Of course many people as well traveling around the world, some unpleasant situations as well that keep on repeating the same movie that I kind of was part of unfortunately in Australia. That has caused turbulence inside of me. 

“But the game was there. I know what my qualities are, what my tennis is. It's just all these things off the court that were just causing so much distraction and pressure that I had to deal with, not just myself but people around me. It has been affecting them a lot more probably than me because they've been protecting me. It's not one of these things you can switch off and basically pretend that it's not happening. 

“I came off from Paris from a tough and also emotional loss against Rafa Nadal that obviously was disappointing. But Rome, Paris, I was already playing the tennis that I want to play, that put me in a position to compete for the greatest titles and I liked my chance coming into Wimbledon. As I always am, I'm very inspired to play my best tennis in London.” 

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