US Open 2022: 'It's a joke' - John McEnroe believes Novak Djokovic missing tournament would not be 'fair'
Under current rules, individuals unvaccinated for Covid-19 are unable to enter the United States. That would seem to prevent Novak Djokovic playing at this year's final Grand Slam in New York. The 21-time major winner missed the Australian Open for similar reasons, and Eurosport expert John McEnroe believes that organisers should respect Djokovic's "strong beliefs" and allow him to play.
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McEnroe does not agree with the exclusion of Djokovic and other unvaccinated players, suggesting that the 35-year-old's "strong beliefs" should be respected and that a travel ban is disproportionate at this stage of the pandemic.
"No, I don't think it's fair," four-time US Open winner McEnroe told Eurosport ahead of the Flushing Meadows event. "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.
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"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."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently relaxed some of its Covid restrictions for unvaccinated US citizens, but is yet to make alterations to a ban on entry of non-vaccinated visitors which was brought in last October.
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"That's the question that we all want to know the answer to," the American suggested when asked if Djokovic's absences meant he was missing out on decisively moving clear of his two great rivals.
"Obviously, Rafa Nadal has benefited from that. Obviously, if a guy has won the Australian Open eight or nine times, you would think [Djokovic blew] a chance in a way.
"These three guys are already above everyone else. Rafa was able to pull off a miraculous win that not many people expected in Australia. Novak got there at Wimbledon and then Rafa got hurt.
"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."
While McEnroe believes Djokovic still has plenty left in the tank, the seven-time Grand Slam singles winner questioned whether being excluded from major tournaments has begun to impact Djokovic psychologically.
McEnroe explained: "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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