Novak Djokovic appears likely to miss the entire north American hardcourt swing unless there is a sudden change in COVID protocols in the US and Canada – and despite a petition circulating to allow him to play at the US Open.
The 21-times grand slam winner remains on the entry lists for the ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that serve as tune-ups for the August 29-September 11 US Open in New York.
That is despite consistently refusing to be vaccinated against COVID.
US Open organisers have previously said that, under grand slam rules, all eligible players are entered into the main draw based on their ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.
The tournament does not have a vaccine mandate, but organisers say they will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens.
Former world No.1 Djokovic, whose website shows no upcoming events, said last week he was preparing for the US Open as if he will be allowed to compete in the year’s final grand slam despite not being vaccinated.
The hashtag #LetNovakPlay was circulating on social media as a slew of Djokovic supporters voiced their support for a player who moved to within one of Spaniard Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 grand slam titles after his Wimbledon triumph last month.
An online petition that launched a month ago calling for the United States Tennis Association to work with the US government to allow the Serbian star to compete at Flushing Meadows was edging closer to its target of 50,000 signatures on Tuesday.
The focus on Djokovic’s status ahead of a grand slam is far from new. He was unable to defend his Australian Open crown this year after being deported from Melbourne over his vaccination status in January.
Djokovic has previously said he is prepared to miss grand slam tournaments rather than have the vaccine.