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Novak Djokovic faces extra Wimbledon pressure as Serb blocked from attending US Open


Novak Djokovic is already under increasing pressure to win Wimbledon amid a tumultuous 2022 season, at the start of which he was denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title. But his desire to lift a seventh title at the All England Club will be fuelled further by the likelihood it could be his final Grand Slam of the year.

The United States is currently treating Djokovic as an ‘unvaccinated foreigner’, and therefore he isn’t allowed to enter the country, according to the New York Times. He will require a special exemption to do so and compete in the US Open across August and September, as he unsuccessfully sought ahead of January’s Australian Open.

However, the US Tennis Association (USTA) have confirmed they won’t be seeking a special exemption for unvaccinated players to compete at Flushing Meadows. So unless the regulations change before the US Open rolls around, Djokovic will likely play his second and final major of the season at Wimbledon.

The same policy prevented the world No 1 from competing in Indian Wells or Miami earlier this year. And if he is again unable to participate, he can’t defend the 1,200 points he won during last year’s campaign, in which Daniil Medvedev defeated him in the final to end his Calendar Slam hopes.

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Djokovic also won’t be able to defend the points he accumulated by winning last year’s Wimbledon after the ATP essentially made the tournament an exhibition event. The organisation stripped its ability to award points in response to the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players amid the Ukraine invasion.

Regardless, Djokovic will be desperate to win Wimbledon to ensure he doesn’t end 2022 without a Grand Slam to his name. Rafael Nadal is steering clear of the Serb and Roger Federer with 22 career Grand Slams, most recently updating his tally with last month’s French Open.

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But heading into Wimbledon, there are concerns over the Spaniard’s fitness amid a hectic year so far, also clinching the Australian Open title in Djokovic’s absence. SW19 doesn’t even tend to be Nadal’s favoured tournament location when in prime condition, failing to taste success there since 2010.

With Medvedev’s ban, Nadal’s injury worries and Federer’s absence in mind, Djokovic is the clear favourite to move one title behind the Swiss icon’s record eight. But if he fails to do so, there would be little hope of saving the season from disaster status, especially with fresh doubts over his US Open hopes emerging.

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