One year after having lived through a nightmare when he was deported from Australia for not complying with the health requirements of the oceanic country, the Serb Novak Djokovic kicked off the current tennis season with relief and a smile. Authorized to compete in Australia despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19, Nole received a warm reception at the ATP 250 in Adelaide, where he started as the main favorite, and is excited with a view to the australian open, the first Grand Slam of the year, which will begin on the 16th of this month. However, the global growth of coronavirus infections can cause him severe headaches for his schedule in several weeks of March and April.
Why? The United States announced that it will extend the Entry ban for those not vaccinated against Covid-19 until April 10. The news, logically, will change the plans of the current number 5 in the world and former leader of the ranking. The decision of the Joe Biden government means that the Balkan could not play, again, the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells (from March 8 to 19) or Miami (from March 22 to April 2).
Given this scenario, Djokovic, who at the next Australian Open will seek to reach his 22nd Grand Slam singles trophy and equal the record of Spanish Rafael Nadal, would lose the option of adding valuable 2,000 points (each Masters 1,000 gives him a thousand units to the champion) in his firm fight with the Spaniards Carlos Alcaraz and Nadal for the pinnacle of world tennis.
If there are no regulatory changes, Djokovic (35 years old) will again have a one-month break before facing the European tour on brick dust in which he will compete in the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, and at Roland Garros, the second major it’s from the season. In 2022, after being deported from Australia, Nole was only able to start competing at the end of February, in Dubai: he did not perform in Indian Wells or Miami and, before the French Open, he played in Monte Carlo (lost in the second round), Belgrade (lost in the final), Madrid (semifinalist) and Rome (was champion).
Djokovic is currently competing on Australian soil for the first time since February 2021 (that year, in Melbourne, he won the Australian Open title, beating Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final). And Adelaida, precisely, is not a strange station for him. In fact, there he won only the third of the 91 titles he has held (in 2007, when he was 19 years old and ranked 16th in the world). In the early hours of this Thursday, Djokovic will meet in the round of 16 in Adelaide with the French Quentin Halys, 64th in the world.
If Djokovic wins the title in Adelaide this week, he will reach 92 trophies in his career, the same amount as Spanish Rafael Nadal, in fourth place among all-time winners (Jimmy Connors, 109; Roger Federer, 103; and Ivan Lendl, 94 ).
Late last year, the United States announced mandatory Covid-19 testing for travelers from China. Britain, India, Japan and several European Union countries also announced tougher measures against Chinese travelers for Covid-19 amid concerns about a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the spread of new variants.