Novak Djokovic is hopeful he can play at the US Open despite….. but Serbian star won’t risk a…..
Novak Djokovic is hopeful of competing in the US Open next month but won’t risk a repeat of the deportation furore he went through in Australia.
The unvaccinated tennis star was booted out of Australia ahead of the Melbourne Slam back in January after the government decided he’d broken strict Covid-19 regulations and he failed with a legal challenge.
And Djokovic, who has just won his 21st career Slam at Wimbledon, risks a repeat ahead of Flushing Meadows with the United States blocking unvaccinated non-citizens from entering the country.
As he opened a tennis complex in the Bosnian town of Visoko, Djokovic said: ‘I’m not going to go to America if I don’t have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all.
‘People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.
‘That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn’t have permission to travel.
‘I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.
‘Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York.
‘I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play.’
Under Australian rules, those who have been deported are not allowed back into the country for three years, putting in doubt his future participation in a Slam he has won nine times.
But there was a glimmer of hope his ban could be lifted because the new Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, is a big tennis fan.
Djokovic, 35, gave no indication he intends to reverse his anti-vax position in order to play in New York.
‘I am a professional tennis player, I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me,’ he said.
‘I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and I expect people to at least respect my decision.
‘If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world.’
Djokovic beat Nick Kyrgios over four sets last Sunday to win Wimbledon for the seventh time and move within one of Rafael Nadal’s record 22 Slam titles.
He received a hero’s reception from thousands of fans outside the city hall in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, upon his return on Monday, with his latest achievement marked with a concert and fireworks display.