Djokovic hopes USA will relax vaccine mandate

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WATCH: Djokovic battles past Kyrgios to win Wimbledon

Djokovic clinched his 21st grand slam win by recovering from one set down to beat Nick Kyrgios in Sunday's Wimbledon final, moving to within one major title of Rafael Nadal's record of 22.

On his 32nd grand slam final appearance – an Open Era record – the Serb claimed his fourth consecutive title at the All England Club with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory in a tense encounter.

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But it has not been plain sailing for Djokovic this year, who missed January's Australian Open after being deported over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and was unable to enter the United States to play the Indian Wells Masters in March.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

But he is hopeful a change in policy could alter that state of affairs before the tournament gets underway on 30 August (AEST), as he reiterated he would not get vaccinated and saw an exemption as unlikely. 

"It is a weird situation," Djokovic said. "I am on vacation. It has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me. I got what I wanted here. 

"I'll wait hopefully for some good news [a change of policy] from the US. I'm not vaccinated and I'm not planning to get vaccinated. I don't think exemption is realistically possible.

"We'll have to see what the schedule looks like then. I doubt I'll chase points. Things have changed in the last year and a half for me. 

"I achieved the historic weeks of being ranked number one, that I worked for all my life. Now I prioritise slams and big tournaments where I feel good."

 

Djokovic's Wimbledon triumph comes at the end of a challenging few months, with the 35-year-old losing year's US Open final and exiting the 2022 French Open to Nadal either side of his much-publicised deportation from Australia. 

And the Serb, who claimed a first career win over Kyrgios on the biggest stage on Sunday, acknowledged: "This year has not been like last year.

"In the first several months of the year I was not at a good place mentally, emotionally. Everything that followed Australia has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. 

"It wasn't that easy to close that chapter. It caused turbulence inside of me and I just had to weather the storm.

"I realised it would take time to regroup and rebalance. All these things off the court were causing so much distraction and pressure for me and the people around me. You can’t pretend it's not happening.

"By Rome and Paris I was already playing the tennis that I want to play. I liked my chances coming into Wimbledon. I think I managed everything pretty well today.

"Now I'm over the moon with joy and happiness of experiencing this moment once again. I don't take any wins for granted, and particularly not in Wimbledon. Every time feels special in its own way.

"Centre court and this tournament still has the most special place in my heart because it has always been my childhood dream tournament. Every time I step out on court it does not feel like anything else. I feel very connected with this court and this tournament. I'm very happy."


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