Tennis

New York | Djokovic withdraws from US Open while Broady calls for a rule change

Novak Djokovic withdraws from the US Open hours before the draw was made and a day after Liam Broady had lambasted players who knew they couldn’t play but kept their names in the pool for the draw.

Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open Novak Djokovic

Djokovic, holder of three US Open titles, has known for some time he wouldn’t be allowed in the country if he remained unvaccinated but kept hoping the authorities would change the regulations in time for him to play and, while they have been relaxed, that rule remains very much in place.

Foreign citizens who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are still unable to enter the U.S or Canada, and Djokovic remains adamant he won’t get the shots, even if that prevents him from playing in certain tournaments.

The USTA has said all along it will follow government rules about vaccination status for this year’s Open. There is no vaccine mandate at the tournament for players or their support teams — meaning that an unvaccinated American would be allowed to compete — and spectators will not be required to wear masks.

Consequently the 35-year-old Serbian with 21 grand slam titles to his name, one behind current record holder Rafa Nadal, accepted defeat by tweeting on Thursday, just a few hours before the draw was made: “Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” and wished his fellow players, good luck and declared he would “keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.”

Twenty-four hours earlier, Britain’s No.6 Liam Broady, had called for a rule prohibiting players who knew they wouldn’t be able to play, for whatever reason, shouldn’t be included in the draw only for them to withdraw after the draw was made thereby requiring it to be reshuffled.

“There should be a rule against late withdrawals from Slams when you know you aren’t going to play,” Broady wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Really tough on No. 1 seeds in Slam qualifying seeing players they know aren’t playing on the main draw list but still having to go through qualifying.”

He also made it clear he wasn’t pointing a finger at Djokovic.

“This tweet isn’t about ND,” Broady, who got through the first round of qualifying for next week’s last major of the season, said in a reply to a Djokovic fan.

“It’s about players who KNOW way before the withdrawal deadline and still don’t do it due to lack of caring.

“It can cost the guy one out of main draw a lot of money as qualifying isn’t guaranteed… I think ND still believes there’s a chance he plays. Totally fine.”

Liam Broady in action during his qualifying match

TPN/Getty Images

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