Djokovic Holding Out Hope He Will Be Allowed To Play In US Open

Novak Djokovic (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Novak Djokovic‘s decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 means he will not be able to enter the United States to compete in this year’s US Open. The U.S. Tennis Association, which oversees governance of the US Open, has previously said it would abide by the U.S. government’s ban on non-vaccinated foreign visitors and will not try to seek an exemption for Djokovic to play in the year’s final Grand Slam, which begins August 29.

Djokovic, who was deported from Australia last January and denied the opportunity to compete for a 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19, likely will also miss the US Open. However, the 35-year-old from Serbia said he has his “fingers crossed” he will be in the draw when the year’s last major starts next Monday. Djokovic was allowed to play in this year’s French Open and won his 21st major title earlier this summer at the Wimbledon Championships.

As of Tuesday, Djokovic remained on the US Open entry list as qualifying began at Flushing Meadow. However, since October 2021, it has been United States government policy to not allow non-vaccinated visitors to enter the country.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is the nation’s health protection agency, requires a non-U.S. citizen must “show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19” before traveling by air from a foreign country. It is this ruling which prevented Djokovic from playing back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami in March as well as in last week’s Western & Southern Open.

Djokovic was also denied the chance to play at the National Bank Open in Montreal two weeks ago because of Canada’s ban on unvaccinated foreign visitors.

Although the CDS relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month, lifting the travel ban for unvaccinated visitors was not one of them. There has been no further movement with less than a week before the main draw begins at the US Open.

Nearly 50,000 of the World No. 6’s fans have signed a petition asking that Djokovic be allowed to participate in this year’s US Open.

“I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to the U.S.,” Djokovic wrote in a social media post on July 30. “Fingers crossed.”

History-making week for Garcia lifts her back into the WTA Top 20

France’s Caroline Garcia has become the first qualifier to win a WTA 1000 title. Sunday afternoon at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, near Cincinnati, the former World No. 4 defeated two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-4, to win her 10th career title, third of the season and first WTA 1000 since 2017.

The 28-year-old Garcia’s history-making week, in which she won eight matches in nine days – including victories over three Top-10 opponents – lifted her into the Top 20 at No. 17 just a week from the start of the US Open. She began her week in Ohio ranked 35th.

In press after her title triumph, Garcia called her championship run “pure joy. Just happiness.

“Every single win is very important,” she said. “Every title is very special, 250, 1000, it’s always very hard to describe it.

“It’s not happening so often, and you have to really like enjoy it. I’m really grateful for this great week of tennis, and to win another title, it’s very special.”

Since returning this summer from a foot injury, Garcia has blazed a trail and won crowns on all three surfaces. She won a title on grass at Bad Homburg in June, then a clay-court event in Warsaw in July. She’s 4-0 against Top-10 opponents and has won more WTA Tour main draw matches (26) since June than any other player.

Looking back on her latest title week, Garcia admitted: “You know, every match every day was a new day, new challenge. Every time I had to be focused on myself, on my game, what can I do, how I can be more aggressive, how can I improve. Just one day at a time I ended up here today on the final and now lifting the trophy.

“On the 1000, everything goes so fast. You have to refocus every morning. It’s a tough challenge, but I’m really happy the way we made it through.”

Second season of Azarenka’s “Think About It” podcast is released

The second season of “Think About It with Victoria Azarenka,” a podcast series centering around “intimate and honest conversations with inspiring high-level guests from various walks of life and business,” was released on Monday.

When Victoria Azarenka, 33, took to social media on Sunday to say “Announcement tomorrow …” it sparked a lot of curiosity. Would the two-time Grand Slam champion, who will be competing in her 15th US Open next week, be revealing she was retiring or, perhaps, that she was pregnant with a second child? No and no.

“These comments put a smile on my face and reminded me how many people love to watch me play and chase my dreams,” the three-time US Open finalist Azarenka wrote on Twitter Monday. “I appreciate this and thank you for such a great reminder. …

“I’ve worked really hard these last eight months to create and drop the second season of my podcast, ‘Think About It’. I’m excited to share with the world as this season has very intimate, open and emotional conversations with some amazing people.”

Among the second-season guests of Azarenka are: British singer-songwriter Seal, Miami restauranteur David Grutman and tennis journalist and “Sixty Minutes” correspondent Jon Wertheim.

By the numbers

Alizé Cornet of France won her 500th career WTA Tour match Monday. The 32-year-old Cornet, who is seeded eighth this week at the Tennis in the Land in Cleveland, Ohio, defeated Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, 6-2, 6-1. The 37th-ranked Cornet, who was ranked as high as World No. 11 in 2009, followed it with victory No. 501 Tuesday afternoon over Danish teenager Clara Tauson, 6-3, 7-6 (1).

“Quotable …”

“First of all, I’m super happy to get that win, [my] first win on hard courts since a very long time, since March 2021, I guess. It was not easy at all today with the rain delay, coming back out there at 11:15 p.m. It was very late. I had trouble [getting] into the match again. But luckily I raised the level a little bit in the third-set tie-break and compared to Kitzbühel, where similar stuff happened with the rain, the luck was on my side today.”

Dominic Thiem of Austria, commenting after his rain-delayed first-round victory J.J. Wolf at the ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina Monday night.