Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)
Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic repeated on Saturday his absolute refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as he resigned himself to not participating in the last Grand Slam of the season at the US Open.
Djokovic was kicked out of Melbourne in January due to his tough but controversial stance, forcing him to give up an assault on a 10th Australian Open title.
With no sign that US authorities are relaxing their rule requiring all visitors to be vaccinated, Djokovic, 35, admitted on Saturday that Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, will be his last Slam of 2022.
When asked if he had completely closed his mind to getting vaccinated, he was unequivocal.
“Yes,” he said.
Djokovic was US Open champion in 2011, 2015 and 2018.
He has 20 Grand Slams to his name, two less than his former rival Rafael Nadal.
Last year’s New York final loss to Daniil Medvedev robbed him of the opportunity to become the first man since 1969 to win a Grand Slam on the calendar.
His inability to make it to the United States – he has already missed the Indian Wells and Miami Masters – will be a key driver as he aims for a seventh Wimbledon title.
“As of today, I’m not allowed to enter the United States under these circumstances. It’s an extra motivation to do well here. I hope I can do a very good tournament,” said Djokovic.
“I would love to go to the United States. But as of now, it’s not possible. I can’t do much anymore.
“It’s really up to the US government to decide whether or not to allow unvaccinated people into the country.”
Also adding fuel to Djokovic’s fire is the chance to win a fourth straight Wimbledon title and join a select group.
In the Open era, only Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have managed to complete such a streak of dominance at the All England Club.
“As a boy of seven or eight, I dreamed of winning Wimbledon and becoming No. 1,” he added.
“Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon is the first tennis match I’ve ever seen on TV.”