Novak Djokovic will hold firm in his stance against COVID-19 vaccination, despite it costing him the world No.1 ranking.
Djokovic reclaimed his spot at the top back from young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz after winning the 2023 Australian Open and, until last week, had been increasing his record number of weeks at the top of the ATP rankings.
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But that tally was stopped at 380 after his request for special permission to travel to the United States was declined, meaning he wasn’t able to compete in the first two ATP 1000 events of the season, the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Open.
The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entering the country, although that policy is set to be scrapped in May.
With the 22-time grand slam champion unable to feature, Alcaraz returned to the top of the rankings with his victory at Indian Wells.
But Djokovic told CNN he has “no regrets”.
“It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to play in Indian Wells and Miami,” he said.
“I love those tournaments. I had plenty of success there. But at the same time, it is the conscious decision I made and I knew that there was always a possibility that I wouldn’t go.
“It is the current state or current situation that I hope will change later this year for the US Open. That is the most important tournament for me on American soil.
“I’ve learned through life that regrets only hold you back and basically make you live in the past and I don’t want to do that.
“I also don’t want to live too much in the future. I want to be as much as in the present moment, but of course, think about the future and create a better future.”
Alcaraz, who won the US Open in 2022, romped to last week’s title at Indian Wells with a comprehensive 6-3 6-2 victory against Daniil Medvedev in the final.
“I congratulate Alcaraz,” Djokovic said. “He absolutely deserves to come back to number one.”
Djokovic’s attention will now turn to the clay season in Europe as he gears up to try and win a third French Open title.
“I’m as enthusiastic as ever, as motivated as ever for the sport, my family, my foundation, all the projects and everything I’m doing off the court,” he added.
“The dignity, and integrity, and staying true to myself, and my beliefs and my rights are above everything.”
– With AAP