WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Novak Djokovic knows that, as things stand now, Wimbledon will be his last Grand Slam tournament of 2022, because he will not be able to play in the U.S. Open — he has not received any COVID-19 shots and can’t enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner.
“That,” the 35-year-old from Serbia said Saturday at the All England Club, “is an extra motivation to do well here.”
Djokovic began this season tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 major championships, then the record for a man. But Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated led to his deportation from Australia before the Australian Open in January — and Nadal wound up winning that tournament to get his 21st.
Nadal then beat Djokovic in the quarterfinals at the French Open en route to earning his 22nd Slam title this month.
When Wimbledon starts on Monday, Djokovic will have the honor of opening play at Centre Court as the defending champion. He is seeded No. 1 and will be bidding for a fourth consecutive title at the All England Club and seventh overall.
“Hopefully I can have a very good tournament, as I have done in the last three editions. Then I’ll just have to wait and see. I would love to go to States. But as of today, that’s not possible,” said Djokovic, who has come down with COVID-19 twice. “There is not much I can do anymore. I mean, it’s really up to the U.S. government to make a decision whether or not they allow unvaccinated people to go into the country.”
A reporter noted that Djokovic does still have time to get vaccinated before play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29, and then asked him whether “you’ve completely closed your mind to that as an option.”
Djokovic replied with one word: “Yes.”
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