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Novak Djokovic hopes he can still be allowed to play at the US Open despite refusing to get a coronavirus shot.
The 35-year-old Wimbledon champion currently has his road to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors into the country.
US tennis authorities have pledged to abide by government decisions regarding coronavirus protocols, despite Djokovic’s inclusion on their entry list.
For Djokovic to be allowed to enter the United States, it appears he would require a policy change from lawmakers, or he would have to be considered eligible for an exemption.
Among those who could benefit from such an exemption are “persons whose entry would be in the national interest”.
Djokovic said in a statement on Saturday: “I am preparing as if I will be cleared to compete, waiting to find out if there is room for me to travel to the United States. Fingers crossed!”
With 21 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is second on the men’s all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 major tournament wins.
Djokovic was barred from playing in Australia, where problems with his visa resulted in his deportation from Melbourne on public health grounds as he had not taken the vaccine.
The three-time US Open winner feels public support for his situation as he insists he will not consider getting a vaccine.
In his post on Saturday, Djokovic said: “I just wanted to take a moment and tell you all how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from around the world these days.
“I didn’t expect this, and that’s why this is so mind-blowing. I just wanted to say THANK YOU.
“It’s special that people connect with my tennis career in such a loving and supportive way and want me to keep competing.”
He found the support of John McEnroe, the great American tennis player, who told Tennis 365 in July: “I hope someone finds a way to fix this problem. It’s crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage.”
Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year’s men’s singles final in New York when current entry rules were not in place.
Senator Marsha Blackburn has also spoken out, saying last week that it was “absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the United States”.