Novak Djokovic: Tennis world number one to play at US Open after Covid-19 policy change - rules, dates explained

Novak Djokovic missed last year’s US Open due to the country’s policies around vaccination

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The World number one Novak Djokovic will now be able to play at this year’s US Open after the United States confirmed that international travellers will no longer need to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The 35-year-old Serbian tennis star was forced to miss last year’s tournament as well as other US events, such as Indian Wells and Miami, because of his vaccination status. The 22-time Grand Slam champion also missed the 2022 Australian Open after getting deported from the country, but was able to return in January 2023 and went on to win the event, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.

The Serbian had hoped to compete in this year’s Indian Wells, a tournament which he has won five times, but was forced to withdraw as he was still unable to enter the country despite applying for special permission. Most recently, injury kept Djokovic out of action for the Madrid Open but world number one is due to start his campaign for an overall men’s record 23rd Grand Slam title at the French Open later this month. The 35-year-old reached last year’s quarter-final stage of the French Open in Paris before losing to the eventual winner Rafael Nadal in four sets.

What’s been said?

The White House said in a statement: “Today, we are announcing that the Administration will end the Covid-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors and international air travellers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the Covid-19 health emergency ends.”

Novak Djokovic is a three-time winner of the US OpenNovak Djokovic is a three-time winner of the US Open
Novak Djokovic is a three-time winner of the US Open

Djokovic is one of the most high-profile athletes to have opposed the Covid-19 vaccine. In April 2020, he issued a statement saying “Personally, I am opposed to the vaccination against Covid-19 in order to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, I will have to make a decision whether to do it or not.”

During the interview which was conducted with former world number one Amelie Mauresmo, Djokovic also said he “wouldn’t be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

Several months later, he and his wife tested positive for the illness and in January 2022, Djokovic - who knew he had tested positive for Covid-19 - attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot at his tennis centre in Serbia. He later admitted in a lengthy statement that he made an “error of judgement” and should have immediately gone into isolation.

When is the US Open?

The tournament will begin on Monday 28 August and will conclude with the men’s final on Sunday 10 September. Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz is the current champion in the ATP event while Iga Swiatek won the WTA singles tournament. Djokovic has won the US Open on three occasions, most recently in 2018, and he has been a finalist on six other occasions.

Here are the upcoming Grand Slam dates for this year:

  • French Open: Monday 22 May - Sunday 11 June 2023, Roland Garros
  • Wimbledon Championships: Monday 3 July - Sunday July 16, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
  • Us Open: Monday 28 August - Sunday 10 September, Flushing Meadows

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