It appears that Novak Djokovic will defend his French Open title.
On Monday, France lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions, clearing the way for Djokovic to play in the French Open at Roland Garros at the end of May.
“As things stand, nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open,” tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said on Wednesday, according to ESPN.
Gilles Moretton, president of the French tennis federation, said that things could change before the start of the tournament.
“There’s still a virus circulating, and we have to be cautious,” Moretton said, according to ESPN. “If things were to happen again and the government would take new measures, we would not be excluded from these measures.”
Earlier in the week, British tennis star Andy Murray refused to count out Djokovic to defend his 2021 French Open title, while putting Rafael Nadal as his favorite to win a 14th French Open title.
“As it stands today, I would have to put Rafa as being the favourite to potentially win the French Open again,” Murray said according to EuroSport.
“Novak’s obviously had very little competitive tennis for a period, and Rafa’s obviously started the year extremely well, and he’s maybe in a position he even said he was not expecting himself to be in, even a few months ago,” Murray continued.
“So he probably feels like quite relaxed and maybe a little bit less pressure than was on him a couple of the last couple of French Opens, for example,” he added. “I wouldn’t count Novak out, for sure, but it’s not going to be easy because he’s obviously missed quite a lot of tennis.”
The news out of France comes a week after Djokovic dropped out of two tournaments due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate implemented by the CDC on visitors to the United States.
Last Wednesday, Djokovic announced that he would not be playing at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, or the late-March Miami Open.
“While I was automatically listed in the [BNP Paribas Open] and [Miami Open] draw I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel,” Djokovic posted to Twitter last Wednesday. “The CDC has confirmed that regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the US. Good luck to those playing in these great tournaments.”
Per the CDC, visitors to the United States must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
“We understood from the beginning that Novak’s participation at the Miami Open was determinant on his entry into the United States, which we knew would be a long shot,” tournament director of the Miami Open James Blake said. “We have an incredibly deep and talented player field, and look forward to hosting a great event.”
It’s been a fascinating year for the world’s former number one, who was barred from participating in the Australian Open due to being unvaccinated.
In an interview with the BBC in February, Djokovic said he was willing to miss out on future tournaments if they required the COVID-19 vaccine in order to compete.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC when asked if he would be willing to miss out on tournaments requiring him to get the jab.
“I was never against vaccination,” he continued, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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