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Novak Djokovic cleared to play at US Open as vaccine requirements lifted

Novak Djokovic cleared to play at US Open as vaccine requirements lifted
© Reuters
Twenty-two-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic is cleared to play at the 2023 US Open as the country lifts its COVID-19 vaccine entry requirements.

Twenty-two-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will be able to compete at the 2023 US Open after the country lifted its COVID-19 vaccine entry requirements.

The 35-year-old has not been immunised against the disease and has affirmed that he has no intention of receiving the vaccine, restricting his ability to play in US tournaments.

Djokovic, who lost to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the 2021 US Open final, was unable to compete in last year's Grand Slam due to his vaccination status, as Carlos Alcaraz took the title.

Furthermore, the Serbian has also been forced to miss the last three editions of the Miami Open and Indian Wells Masters, as well as the Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters in 2021 and 2022.

However, the White House has now announced that visitors to the United States from May 12 will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination, enabling Djokovic to return to Flushing Meadows and the aforementioned ATP 1000 events.

"Today, we are announcing that the Administration will end the Covid-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors, and international air travellers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the Covid-19 public health emergency ends," a statement read.

Novak Djokovic reacts at the Australian Open on January 29, 2023© Reuters

Djokovic had applied for special permission to enter the US and compete at March's Indian Wells Masters tournament, receiving backing from the official US Open and Miami Open social media accounts in the process.

Florida senators are also said to have pleaded with President Joe Biden to allow Djokovic into the country as a person of "national interest", which may have made him exempt from the ruling.

However, Djokovic was ultimately forced to withdraw after being unsuccessful in his application, instead returning to action at April's Monte-Carlo Masters, losing to Lorenzo Musetti in the last 16.

The 35-year-old subsequently competed at the Srpska Open in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but he suffered a shock quarter-final elimination to eventual winner Dusan Lajovic before withdrawing from the ongoing Madrid Open due to an elbow injury.

Djokovic has won just three of his 22 Grand Slam crowns at the US Open, going all the way in the 2011, 2015 and 2018 editions, while finishing as runner-up on a further six occasions.

The 2023 US Open begins on August 28, prior to which Djokovic will push to return to full fitness in time for the start of the French Open on May 29.

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