Novak Djokovic would usually be one of the favorites for any Grand Slam tournament, especially after lifting one of the big four trophies on the calendar.
The Serb won his 21st Grand Slam title on Sunday, beating Nick Kyrgios in the final to lift another Wimbledon trophy, the seventh time he has done so and his fourth at SW19 in a row.
In a weird quirk, Djokovic will actually drop from world No. 3 to No. 7 despite winning Wimbledon, as ranking points were scrapped following the tournament organizers’ decision to ban Russians and Belarusians from taking part. at this year’s event.
However, as things stand, Djokovic’s immediate future remains uncertain. Due to his anti-Covid-19 vaccination stance, his current participation in the upcoming grand slams in the United States and Australia has been questioned.
So what does the future hold for the reigning Wimbledon champion?
Djokovic endured a tough few months off the pitch and it seeped into his game.
In January, Djokovic was finally kicked out of Australia following a protracted saga, including time in detention, preventing him from competing at the Australian Open due to his refusal to get a vaccine against the disease. Covid-19.
Under Australian law, Djokovic could be banned from the country for three years due to the circumstances surrounding his deportation, although Home Secretary Karen Andrews has not ruled out an exemption. “Any application will be considered on the merits,” she said in January.
Although he slowly but surely returned to action, the former world No. 1 said he had to “weather through a storm” during this period.
“The first few months of this year have affected me,” he said after winning Wimbledon. “Mentally and emotionally, I was not well placed. I felt so much pressure.
“It caused turbulence inside me. I just needed time to weather the storm. At some point I realized it was going to take time, and that’s it, time for me to regroup. , to be in a state of optimal balance on the field, off the field.
Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach and 2001 Wimbledon winner, hailed the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s ability to come back from a “difficult year”.
“It’s huge what happened to him. We were all expecting him after a few weeks: ‘Okay, forget Australia, let’s go back and train’. It’s not like that,” Ivanisevic said.
“It took time, Monte-Carlo, Belgrade, then he started playing better, Madrid, Rome. Even he played well in Paris, but Rafa (Nadal) was a better player that night.
“For some people, they just can’t get over it. They will never play tennis. It was a big shock. It was a shock to me, and there I was. I was free. Imagine for him.
“Unbelievable how he recovered and how he got out of it. It’s really heroic for me because it wasn’t easy to digest all that and come back to play tennis. Then you think: ‘Why (should you) play tennis?’
Despite returning to action in select tournaments, his Covid-19 vaccination stance has restricted his participation in others.
He has missed tournaments in the United States throughout this year, such as Indian Wells or the Miami Open, because any non-American citizen must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to receive a visa and enter the country.
And, as things stand, he wouldn’t be allowed to play at the US Open – which is due to start on August 29 – because he hasn’t been vaccinated.
Djokovic didn’t sound particularly optimistic about competing at Flushing Meadows given the current situation – although he said he would “really love” to play there.
“I’m not vaccinated and don’t plan on getting vaccinated so the only good news I can have is they’re removing the mandatory green vaccine card or whatever you call it to get in in the United States or an exemption,” he said.
“I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that’s a possibility, I don’t know what the exemption would be. I do not know. I don’t have many answers there. I think it’s fair whether or not they remove it in time for me to get to the US.
In fact, due to current Australian immigration laws, the 35-year-old would also not be allowed to play at the 2023 Australian Open.
This could mean that Djokovic – one of the greatest to ever grace the sport of tennis – would next take to the court in a grand slam in May 2023 at next year’s French Open.
He remains one Grand Slam title behind Nadal’s all-time record of 21 and, giving a glimpse of what he sees in his future, prioritizing the biggest events will be his main focus.
“To be honest, I doubt I’ll go for points,” he explained. “From what I understood from my agent today, winning a Grand Slam would qualify you for the World Tour Finals unless you are out of the top 20, which I don’t know. With the points accumulated so far, I guess I’ll make the top 20.
“I guess I have a good chance of being in the final already. I’m not going to bother with really having to go and play tournaments and get points.
“I don’t really feel any pressure or need to play a certain schedule. And things have changed for a year, a year and a half for me. I reached this historic number 1, weeks for number 1, which I have worked for all my life. Now that it’s done and dusted off, I’m really prioritizing slams and big tournaments and where I want to play, where I feel good.
He added: “It could be the Laver Cup, the Davis Cup is also coming. I love playing for my country. I will try to be a part of it. The next thing you know, the season is over, is These are the big, shall we say, tournaments I have in mind at the moment.