John McEnroe says Djokovic missing U.S. Open due to COVID vaccine status would be 'a joke'
Serbian tennis star set to miss out on year's last Grand Slam later this month
Four-time U.S. Open winner John McEnroe said it would be "a joke" if Novak Djokovic is unable to compete at the U.S. tournament starting later this month due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Djokovic has refused to take the vaccine and appears set to miss out on the year's last Grand Slam due to current U.S. rules that require travelers to show proof of full vaccination to board flights to and enter the United States.
The Serbian previously said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments that require participating players to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Djokovic remains on the entry list for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 tournament in New York.
"I would have had the vaccine and gone and played but he's got very strong beliefs and you have to respect that.
"At this point, in the pandemic, we're two-and-a-half years in, I think people in all parts of the world know more about it, and the idea that he can't travel here to play, to me is a joke."
Djokovic was unable to defend his Australian Open crown this year after being deported from the country over his vaccination status in January.
When asked if Djokovic's chances of finishing above his rivals in terms of Grand Slam victories were being affected by his absences from major tournaments, McEnroe said, "that's the question that we all want to know the answer to."
"Obviously, Rafa Nadal has benefited from that. If a guy has won the Australian Open eight or nine times, you would think [Djokovic blew] a chance in a way.
"These three guys are already above everyone else. Rafa was able to pull off a miraculous win that not many people expected in Australia. Novak got there at Wimbledon and then Rafa got hurt."
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