The Serbian won his 21st Grand Slam title on Sunday, defeating Nick Kyrgios in the final to win another Wimbledon Cup, the seventh time he has achieved it and fourth in SW19 in a row.
However, as it stands, Djokovic’s immediate future remains unclear. As a result of his stance on vaccination against Covid-19, his current participation in the upcoming major tournaments in the United States and Australia is being called into question.
“I just need time to weather the storm”
Djokovic has endured two rocky months off the court and that creeps into his play on her.
In January, Djokovic was finally deported from Australia after an epic lengthy period, including time in detention, which prevented him from participating in the Australian Open due to his refusal to get a vaccine for Covid-19.
Although he’s slowly but surely gotten back into action, the former world No. 1 seed said he’s had to “stand up to a storm” during that time.
“The first months of this year affected me,” he said after winning Wimbledon. “Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t in a good shape. I felt a lot of pressure.
“It caused an inner turmoil. I just needed time to weather the storm. At some point, I realized that it would only take time, and that was the time for me to regroup, to reach an optimal state of balance on the court, off the court.”
Djokovic’s coach and 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic praised the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s ability to come back from a “difficult year”.
“That was a big thing that happened to him,” Ivanisevic said. “We all expected him after two weeks, ‘Okay, forget Australia, let’s go back and train.'” It didn’t happen that way.”
“It took a long time, Monte Carlo, Belgrade and then he started playing better, Madrid and Roma. He even played well in Paris, but Rafa (Nadal) was the best player that night.
“For some people, they don’t recover. They will never play tennis. That was a huge shock. It was a shock to me, and I was there. I was free. Imagine him.
“It’s unbelievable how he recovered and how he got over that. It’s really heroic to me because it wasn’t easy to absorb all the things and go back to playing tennis. Then you think: ‘Why do you (do) have to play tennis?'” “
Despite his return to play in select tournaments, his stance on the Covid-19 vaccination has restricted his participation in other tournaments.
He has missed tournaments in the US all this year, such as the Indian Wells or the Miami Open, because any non-US citizen must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to obtain a visa and enter the country.
As it stands, he will not be allowed to play in the US Open – which is due to start on August 29 – because he has not been vaccinated.
Djokovic did not seem particularly optimistic about competing at Flushing Meadows given the current situation – although he said he would “really love” playing there.
“I’m not a restaurant and I’m not planning to get a vaccine, so the only good news I can get is the mandatory green vaccination card or whatever you call it for US entry or exemption,” he said.
“I don’t think an exemption is realistically possible. If it is, I don’t know what an exemption is. I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of answers there. I think it just comes down to whether they remove this in time to get to the US American.”
In fact, due to current Australian immigration laws, the 35-year-old will not be allowed to play in the 2023 Australian Open either.
This could mean that Djokovic – one of the greatest tennis players ever – will next take to the court at one of the four Grand Slams in May 2023 at next year’s French Open.
One of the Grand Slam titles is still behind Nadal’s record of 21, and giving some insight into what he sees in his future, his primary focus will be on prioritizing the biggest events.
“Honestly, I doubt I’d go and chase the points,” he explained. “As I understood from my agent today, winning a Grand Slam would qualify you for the World Tour Finals unless you were in the top 20, which I don’t know. With the points accumulated so far, I think I’ll make it into the top 20.
“I think I have a good chance of actually being in the finals. I won’t bring myself to go play tournaments and get points.
“I don’t really feel any pressure or necessity to play on a certain schedule. And things have changed in the last year, year and a half for me. I’ve made history 1, weeks for number one, which I’ve worked on my whole life. Now I’m done with that, and I’m prioritizing tournaments The majors and the really big leagues and where I want to play, where I feel good.
He added, “It could be the Laver Cup, the Davis Cup is coming as well. I love playing for my country. I’m going to try to be a part of that. Next thing you know, the season is over, right? I say, the tournaments I have now on my mind.”
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