Has New Life Just Been Breathed into Djokovic’s US Open Chances?
Following his victory at Wimbledon this year, Novak Djokovic drew within one Grand Slam title of equally Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22.
In an era dominating by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, tennis’s ‘Big Three’, the total number of Grand Slam titles next to each player’s name is widely recognized as the measuring stick with which all time greatness is determined. With Federer unlikely to compete at a high level again, and both Nadal and Djokovic deep into their thirties, every Grand Slam matters in the race to be remembered as tennis’s greatest.
And yet, Djokovic admitted after his Wimbledon win, that he was unlikely to compete in another Grand Slam this year.
Novak Djokovic and His Vaccination Stance
Across the first 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Novak Djokovic was particularly coy about his vaccination stance.
Initially holding to his right to privacy, Djokovic would not disclose if he was vaccinated or not. However, off the back of a prolonged drama surrounding his participation in the Australian Open, Djokovic revealed that he was not vaccinated against Covid-19, nor would he be getting the vaccination, regardless of what that meant for his tennis career.
This stance seems to have stemmed from Djokovic’s health transformation in 2011. Prior to 2011, Djokovic struggled with his fitness, regularly withdrawing from matches and visibly flagging or being short of breath at times. However, following a move towards holistic health and closely monitoring what entered his body, Djokovic experienced nothing short of a miraculous transformation, becoming one of the fittest players on tour.
Now, he is reluctant to put the Covid-19 vaccination into his body, given his beliefs around holistic and natural health, and the success that approach has brought him.
The Serbian has been true to his word so far, missing the Australian Open, as well as the beginning of the North American hard court swing as a consequence of this stance.
USA Border Remains Closed, But For How Long?
Why this is relevant to Djokovic’s pursuit of a 22nd Grand Slam, is because as an unvaccinated foreign national, the Serbian is unable to enter America and compete for the US Open.
However, the Centre for Disease Control in the USA has recently announced that changes are in the pipeline surrounding Covid-19 related restrictions, stating,
“In the coming weeks, the CDC will work to align stand-alone guidance documents, such as those for healthcare settings, congregate settings at higher risk of transmission, and travel, with today’s update.”
While this does not directly imply that the border restrictions impacting Djokovic will be relaxed, the CDC website does elude this may shift, saying the following on that section of their website,
“CDC is reviewing this page to align with updated guidance.”
With the US Open getting underway in two weeks’ time, it is a race against the clock for government regulations to change in time for Djokovic to enter the country.
US Open Odds Continue to Favor Djokovic Despite Uncertainty
Despite how the uncertainty of Novak Djokovic’s participation in this year’s US Open, most bookies still have him as the overwhelming favorite to win the title.
Here is how the men’s top ten favorites are shaping up for the US Open:
· Novak Djokovic +150
· Daniil Medvedev +230
· Rafael Nadal +550
· Carlos Alcaraz +550
· Nick Kyrgios +800
· Jannik Sinner +1200
· Stefanos Tsitsipas +1600
· Alexander Zverev +2000
· Felix Auger Aliassime +2000
· Matteo Berrettini +2000
With Djokovic unlikely to compete, significant injury clouds over Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev, and Matteo Berrettini having had hardly any gametime in the last six months, this is shaping up to be a race between Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios.
Expect these odds to change significantly if Djokovic is unable to participate, as they are clearly operating on the assumption that the Serb will be present for the tournament’s commencement.
For now, however, the Serbian remains optimistic and is training hard in anticipation of a miracle coming his way.