Novak Djokovic’s six-year frustration set to go on as tournament chief expresses doubts

Novak Djokovic talks about his stance on Covid vaccinations

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Novak Djokovic’s refusal to be vaccinated could cost his his place at another tennis tournament with his place in Canada’s National Bank Open now in doubt. In January, the Serbian kicked off an explosive saga when he announced he had been granted a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open.

However, upon arriving at Melbourne Airport, the 20-time Grand Slam champion had his visa revoked and was detained by border force officials. Although he had the decision overturned on appeal, his visa was then cancelled again and, this time, a federal court upheld the ruling and he was deported home the day before the tournament began.

Djokovic, 34, does seem set to play in the French Open in May after France relaxed Covid-19 laws, but since the debacle down under, has been barred from playing in tournaments in Miami and Indian Wells. His lack of match action allowed Daniil Medvedev to end his long standing reign as world no 1.

And now, National Bank open organiser Eugene Lapierre has admitted the event may well have to go ahead without one of the star attractions. The tournament is due to start on August 6, and will form an important part of the build-up to the 2022 US Open.

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Speaking to journaldemontreal, Lapierre said “We’re not really in a hurry [to confirm regulations].We imagine that there will be changes as we go along; if the situation improves, if the situation worsens, or whatever.

“If it were today, it would be impossible for Novak to return to Canada and participate in the event. So we’re going to wait.” Lapierre also said crowds would be at “full capacity” after restricted numbers in 2021, with the event having been cancelled in 2020.

Djokovic last won the tournament in 2016, beating Japanese player Kei Nishikori in straight sets in the final. That was his last appearance in the final however, with Alexander Zverev beating Roger Federer to claim the title in 2017.

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Rafael Nadal then claimed the crown in both 2018 and 2019, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Medvedev respectively. When the tournament returned after a two year absence though, Medvedev did prevail, beating Reilly Opelka.

The men’s tournament began in 1881, while the women’s competition was first held in 1892. Of the current events on the circuit, only Wimbledon has been around longer.

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