This is the saga that punctuated the summer of tennis enthusiasts. Novak Djokovic at the US Open, will participate, will not participate? After weeks of suspense, the verdict is in. The Serb will not be in New York to play the last big meeting of the season, from August 29 to September 11.
In a Tweet published Thursday, August 25, two hours before the draw, Novak Djokovic announced that he was forfeiting the Grand Slam tournament. “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to travel to New York this time for the US Open. (…) I will keep myself in good shape and keep a positive state of mind until I can resume competition. »
Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open. Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and s… https://t.co/OUlcMzH17p
In question, the position of the current world number 6 on the subject of vaccination against Covid-19. The triple title holder and finalist in 2021 across the Atlantic remains impassive and refuses to be vaccinated. “That’s the price and I’m willing to pay it. Making decisions about my body is more important than any title. », he said in an interview with the BBC on February 15. If he claims not to be an « antivax », he claims “the freedom to choose what you put in your body”.
An assumed choice embarking on tough negotiations with the Anglo-Saxon tournaments, which maintain a strict policy. The United States is no exception and requires a passport vaccine to enter the territory. Djokovic hoped until the last moment for a relaxation of the measures formulated by the health authorities.
On the circuit, opinions differ. Some understand the choice of the American authorities, others question it. “I was in the United States and not many people seemed to follow the health recommendations. (…) So, I do not see why Djokovic could not come and play ”dropped the Australian John Millman, 104e in the ATP rankings, on his Twitter account. For his part, Daniil Medvedev, world number 1 and winner of the US Open in 2021, did not hesitate to support the Serb. “I can’t do anything, it’s the government that sets the rules. If it was my decision, no doubt I would want Novak to play. I like when the best players in the world are there. He just won a Grand Slam. I would love to see him in New York. » Same story with John McEnroe. The former glory of American tennis known for his outspokenness spoke in an interview with the Spanish daily Marca: “I would have been vaccinated in his place, but you have to respect his way of thinking. We’ve been living with the pandemic for two and a half years and they don’t allow him to participate, I consider that a joke. »
The scenario echoes the long legal battle between the player and the Australian government in January. Administrative detention, expulsion and ban on entering the territory: the discussions had not turned in favor of Djokovic, who had to give up on the Australian Open, where he came to defend his title.
A male painting open as rarely
As a result, the record holder for the number of weeks spent at the top of the ATP rankings (373) is missing out on precious points, delaying him a little more in his race for records which he has now led with Rafael Nadal, since extended absence from the field of Swiss Roger Federer.
In the number of Grand Slam tournaments won, the Spaniard remains one step ahead of his Serbian rival (respectively 22 and 21 trophies), one year his junior (35 years). But few will risk burying Novak Djokovic too quickly. “He is still very fit physically and remains very far from the end of his career. He managed to bounce back from his experience in Australia, he knows what to expect”comments the former tricolor tennis player Camille Pin. “The fact of being excluded from these competitions will motivate him more to win others. He knows what to expect and will be all the more ready for the future. He has such a level that it will simply create a balance with the other players.she continues.
Behind him, « Nole » leaves a boulevard to his opponents in the men’s draw with the Russian Daniil Medvedev in the lead. In the wake of the world number one, the promising new generation made up of Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Carlos Alcaraz will be resolutely ready to fight. “This scenario resembles what we experienced among the ladies a few years ago. Players we didn’t think of will be able to try to get a title or a place on a Grand Slam, which seemed unimaginable a few years ago. It’s changing and it’s interesting”reacts Camille Pin.
A quest for the Grail, and above all, a race for the top of the ATP rankings. There too, the candidates jostle at the gate to dislodge Daniil Medvedev from his throne. Greek Tsitsipas and Norwegian Casper Ruud (world No. 7) could become the first players from their countries to become world number one. The Spaniard Carloz Alcaraz (n ° 4), he could be the youngest player on the circuit to seize the first place in the ranking since the Australian Lleyton Hewitt, in November 2011.
One thing is certain, the absence of Novak Djokovic will redistribute the cards on the men’s circuit which “has rarely been so open”, emphasizes Camille Pin. The bets have been made.