Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2022 U.S. Open. The Serbian, a three-time U.S. Open winner currently ranked No. 6 in the world, is not vaccinated against COVID-19, and based on CDC guidelines, he cannot receive a visa to travel into the United States.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” Djokovic tweeted on Thursday. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
This year, the U.S. Open said it would follow the rules set by the U.S. government with regards to vaccination. The CDC released updated COVID-19 guidance on Aug. 11, allowing for speculation that the policy about those traveling from outside the United States would also be relaxed.
But as of Thursday morning, no further changes had been announced, and Djokovic’s withdrawal from the Grand Slam was all but inevitable. Djokovic announced that he would not be playing before the men’s draw took place on Thursday, which allows for a “lucky loser” from the qualifying rounds to be included.
“Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 U.S. Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-U.S. citizens,” Stacey Allaster, U.S. Open tournament director, said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 U.S. Open.”
Djokovic, who ranked fifth with $28.2 million in Sportico’s tally of the world’s highest-paid tennis players, hasn’t played since he won his 21st Grand Slam at Wimbledon in July, when he beat Australian Nick Kyrgios in four sets. In late May, Djokovic lost in the quarterfinals of the French Open to Rafael Nadal in four sets, and earlier this year, he attempted to play in the Australian Open with a vaccine exemption, but was deported from the country before the start of the slam.
Only eight of the top 10 men will be competing in Flushing Meadows starting on Monday; world No. 2 Alexander Zverev also withdrew since he’s still recovering from an ankle injury suffered in the semifinals of the French Open.
The women’s final is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 10 and the men’s final on Sept. 11.
This story will be updated.