Novak Djokovic’s inability to participate in the U.S. Open earlier this month due to his vaccination status isn’t something the 21-time Grand Slam champion regrets – even if it means more time between tournaments and a drop in rankings.
Djokovic stood by his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, during a press conference on Thursday ahead the Laver Cup in London, saying he had been well aware of the consequences.
“I don’t have any regrets. I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play (at the U.S. Open), but that was a decision that I made, and I knew what the consequences would be,” he said Thursday. “So I accepted them, and that’s it.”
Federal travel restrictions prevented Djokovic from entering the U.S. as non-citizens are required to be vaccinated against COVID in order to gain entry.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) provided a statement over the summer announcing that while the tournament does not have a vaccine mandate, it would adhere to federal policy.
“I’m not used to making, obviously in the last 15 to 20 years, longer breaks between the tournaments, but it is what it is,” Djokovic added. “That’s kind of the situation I was in. I’m just excited to be able to play here now — and most of the other indoor (tournaments) for the rest of the season.”
Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after traveling there on a visa with a medical exemption for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. While he was able to compete at the French Open and subsequently won Wimbledon, he is currently ranked No. 7 in the world, in part because ranking points were not awarded at the All England Club because of the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Djokovic is facing a three-year ban as a result of his deportation, but it’s not a matter he’s given much thought to, despite hoping for the best.
“It’s really not in my hands right now,” he said Thursday. “So I’m hoping I will get some positive news.”
The Australian Open has been one of Djokovic’s most successful showings — he’s won a record nine titles. He said back in May that he doesn’t hold “any grudges” over the incident and that if given the chance, “I would love to come back.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.