Djokovic not playing at US Open would be a 'joke', says McEnroe

By Sports Desk August 23, 2022

John McEnroe has called Novak Djokovic's potential absence from the US Open over his vaccination status a "joke".

The United States does not currently allow those who have not received the COVID-19 jab into the country, putting the unvaccinated Djokovic in real danger of missing this year's edition of the tournament he has won three times.

The Serb has already missed the Australian Open this year because of his lack of vaccination, while also missing tournaments at Indian Wells in California, as well as the Rogers Cup in Canada.

He did however win his 21st Grand Slam at Wimbledon earlier this year, and McEnroe believes Djokovic should be allowed to play at Flushing Meadows as he chases down Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles in history.

Ahead of the tournament in New York, McEnroe told reporters: "No, I don't think it's fair. I think it's a joke.

"I would have had the vaccine and gone and played but he's got very strong beliefs and you have to respect that. 

"At this point, in the pandemic, we're two and a half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can’t travel here to play, to me is a joke."

On whether Djokovic's decision not to get the vaccine could affect his competition with Nadal and Roger Federer to become the most decorated male player ever, McEnroe replied: "That's the question that we all want to know the answer to.

"Obviously, Rafa Nadal has benefited from that. These three guys are already above everyone else. So, it makes it extremely interesting to see these two go at it and then you think of Roger Federer but he's been hurt for a while."

However, McEnroe believes Djokovic can overcome his vaccination status to win more titles, adding: "Who's to say [Djokovic] can't do it for another couple of years?

"Let's say that he wins three or four more. That's not impossible, by any means. Despite this, he can still get to 25. I think it's made it more complicated to do it because that has to wear on you mentally.

"Training this past month or six weeks not knowing whether he's going to play, that's going to put a strain on you mentally just as it was when he got thrown out of Australia. I think it took him three, four months to get his head right."

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