Novak Djokovic says he’s "preparing" for the U.S. Open later this month as though he’ll be allowed to compete, but the 21-time Grand Slam winner on Thursday withdrew from the Canadian Open over the country’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for travelers.
Similar to the U.S., Canada does not allow unvaccinated foreign citizens to travel to the country, prompting Djokovic to withdraw from the tournament.
Thursday’s news could be a foreshadowing of what’s to come later this month at the U.S. Open, where Djokovic is hoping to earn a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title and his fourth on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows in New York.
After beating Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final on July 10, Djokovic said he "would love" to participate in the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, but also acknowledged, "I’m not planning to get vaccinated."
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) provided a statement last month announcing that while the tournament does not have a vaccine mandate, it will adhere to federal policy.
"The U.S. Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens," said the USTA.
After being deported from Australia in January over his vaccine status, Djokovic missed out on several events in California, Florida and Ohio earlier this season as a result. The U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29, is next on his list.
Djokovic said in a social media post last week that he is focused on training for the U.S. Open "as if I will be allowed to compete."
"I just wanted to take a moment and say to all of you how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all around the world these days," his post read. "I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to the U.S. Fingers crossed!"