Novak Djokovic gets a shot in the arm ahead of US Open as the United States loosens Covid-19 restrictions

Celebrations from Novak Djokovic

The will he or won’t he play at the US Open saga surrounding Novak Djokovic has taken a fresh twist after the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) amended its coronavirus restrictions.

Just a week ago Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic admitted that he had “zero hope” that the 21-time Grand Slam winner would play at this year’s US Open as foreigners who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 are not allowed to enter the United States.

His statement came despite calls from the likes of tennis great John McEnroe, current player John Millman and politicians to allow the Serbian to compete in New York.

Djokovic himself had stated that he is “preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US”.

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And on Thursday he received a big shot in the arm as the CDC issued new guidelines relaxing rules on social distancing and quarantine with one of the key rules stating: “Unvaccinated people now have the same as vaccinated people”.

A statement read: “This updated guidance is intended to apply to community settings. In the coming weeks, 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.”

The CDC is yet to update its travel advice, but their website state that it is under view following the latest guidelines and a change could see Djokovic compete at the final Grand Slam of the year at Flushing Meadows.

The Serbian missed the defence of his Australian Open title as well as the United States hard-court swing in March due to his unvaccinated status.

After competing at the French Open and Wimbledon, Djokovic was sidelined from playing at this week’s Canadian Open and next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, due the coronavirus regulations.

However, he remains on the US Open entry list and a change to the regulations in the coming days could see him fly to the United States to play in New York.

If he is allowed to play, then the Winston-Salem Open is the only event before the US Open that Djokovic could play with the ATP 250 tournament starting on August 22.

However, Djokovic has in the past entered Grand Slams without playing warm-up events and he won Wimbledon this year despite not playing in any grass-court events before the tournament.