Novak Djokovic handed late US Open boost

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Novak Djokovic handed late US Open boost - AFP
Novak Djokovic handed late US Open boost - AFP

Novak Djokovic’s hopes of playing at the US Open have been given a late boost after American health chiefs relaxed nationwide coronavirus guidance for unvaccinated people two-and-a-half weeks before the tournament.

Djokovic is currently banned from entering the United States over his refusal to get jabbed but the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday it was no longer recommending those not to have been inoculated quarantine upon exposure to the disease.

“Prior infection and vaccination confer some protection against severe illness, and so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time,” said CDC scientist Dr Greta Massetti.

The CDC also said in a statement: “In the coming weeks, the CDC will work to align stand-alone guidance documents, such as those for healthcare settings, congregate settings at higher risk of transmission, and travel, with today’s update.”

It was unclear on Friday precisely what impact that would have on unvaccinated foreign visitors entering the country but the travel section of the organisation’s website did state: “CDC is reviewing this page to align with updated guidance.”

The US Open begins on Monday, August 29, and the United States Tennis Association told the Telegraph Sport any changes to the travel rules before then would need to be announced by the time the draw took place four days earlier in order for Djokovic to be guaranteed a place in the tournament.

The Serb has not played a competitive match since winning Wimbledon last month due to his inability to travel to the US and Canada for the hardcourt season.

He announced on social media two weeks ago that he was “preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to the US” but his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said last week he had “zero hope” the ban would be lifted in time for the final grand slam of the year.

Djokovic’s bid to move level with Rafael Nadal on 22 major titles was backed earlier this month by four Republican members of congress, who co-signed a letter to Joe Biden calling for the President to scrap the vaccination mandate.

Following the extraordinary saga that saw him deported from Australia before January’s Australian Open, Djokovic is unlikely to board a plane to the US unless he is absolutely certain to be allowed into the country.