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With his US Open in doubt, Djokovic set for rankings fall as 2022 woes continue

As things stand, the former world No 1 will not be allowed to enter the United States because he’s not vaccinated against Covid-19

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2021 Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2021 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Shortly after Novak Djokovic returned from Australia, having ultimately been refused entry because of his vaccination status, the then world No 1 said he was willing to miss more tournaments to stay true to his personal stance.

At the time, Djokovic was not sure if he would be able to play at Roland-Garros or Wimbledon, but said missing more big events was the “price I’m willing to pay”.

In the event, Djokovic did play in Paris, where he lost to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, but though he will defend his Wimbledon title later this month, 2022 is proving to be an incredibly difficult year for him.

Djokovic set to slip to No 7 due to no points at Wimbledon

Ranked No 1 heading into Paris, Djokovic was replaced a week after by Daniil Medvedev as his points dropped off the computer from last year’s event.

Currently ranked No 3, he is set to slip to No 7 after Wimbledon, through no fault of his own, since Wimbledon will not be awarding any points this year. Following their decision not to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ATP and WTA decided to remove ranking points from the entire tournament.

Djokovic will lose the 2,000 points he earned for winning Wimbledon for a sixth time last year, which means he’ll fall at least four places (depending what happens in the weeks before Wimbledon).

US Open participation still in doubt

On June 12, the USA removed its requirement for non-US citizens travelling to the country to have a negative Covid-19 test, or proof of recovery from Covid, in order to enter the country.

However, passengers must still be vaccinated. If those conditions remain, and there’s no indication to suggest that they will be lifted any time soon, then – presuming he has not had a change of heart – Djokovic will not be allowed entry to the United States. According to the New York Times, the USTA will not seek an exemption.

It’s a feeling he knows well, already, having not been allowed to travel to the USA to play Indian Wells or Miami but if he misses the US Open, his ranking will plummet further, with the 1200 points he received for reaching the final last year due to fall off the computer on September 12, he’ll fall further, most likely out of the top 10.

Djokovic could fall further behind in Grand Slam race

When Djokovic won his 20th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, equalling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, he surely would have believed that by the time this year’s event rolled around, he would be ahead of the chasing pack.

But he missed Australia, where Nadal won to win his 21st slam title, and then, having lost to Nadal in the quarters in Paris, he saw his great rival go two clear by winning a record 14th Roland-Garros crown.

As a six-time champion, he is favourite to win at Wimbledon again but Nadal, seemingly set on playing having received treatment on his chronic left foot, will be a major danger. And if Djokovic can’t play in New York, what price a fifth US Open title for the Spaniard?

Novak Djokovic, Roland-Garros 2022
Novak Djokovic, Roland-Garros 2022 © Mao / Panoramic

Options also reduced by US ban

The problem for Djokovic, in terms of ranking, is that if he can’t get in to the United States then he can’t earn points at summer events in places like Atlanta, Washington D.C or in particular in Cincinnati, where 1,000 points are available to the winner.

The same goes for entry to Canada, for the Canadian Masters.

The chances are that Djokovic will not be worried about ranking points, in which case he won’t have to think laterally and play somewhere else.

But if he wanted to, he could switch back to clay after Wimbledon and play Bastad, Hamburg and Gstaad, where a combined 1,000 points would be available should he win all three.

Or perhaps he’ll take a break and recharge his batteries for the indoor season and end-of-year ATP Finals, which will be held in Turin in November.

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