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McEnroe: Complete Joke If Djokovic Can't Play Sunshine Double

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The 2023 season is a crossroads in tennis history and John McEnroe asserts Novak Djokovic must be part of the total trip. 

The unvaccinated Djokovic has requested an exemption to enter the United States and play the upcoming Sunshine Double. The Australian Open champion is scheduled to clarify his status at a press conference in Serbia tomorrow.

More: Djokovic Seeks Permission to Enter U.S.

World No. 1 Djokovic is currently ineligible to enter the United States under COVID-19 protocol. However, the U.S. government announced it will lift emergency pandemic protocol for international travelers on May 11th, which would clear Djokovic to play the US Open but leave him shut out of the Sunshine Double unless he receives a special exemption.

Hall of Famer McEnroe says "it's a complete joke" if the world No. 1 is not permitted to enter the nation to play next month's Indian Wells and Miami given he can compete in other countries.

Former world No. 1 John McEnroe and brother Patrick McEnroe conducted a Zoom call with the media today to promote their Bucket List Safari to Tanzania. The McEnroe brothers will face off McEnroe brothers in the midst of the Serengeti, one of Africa’s most iconic safari destinations, on a portable court in December where endless chapters of the Great Migration play out. A total of about 120 adventurers can book their spot to travel with the McEnroe brothers for the Bucket List Safari to Tanzania.

Asked his view on Djokovic's status in the States, McEnroe says while he disagrees with Djokovic's position on vaccines, it's "absurd" to deny him entry to the United States. 

"I think it's a complete joke that he's not allowed to play—to make a long story short," McEnroe told the media today. "It's absurd they threw him out of Australia last year. I have had my vaccines. I respect that he's chosen not to do it. I would have done it but that's a whole other issue.

"But at this point, or even last year, he played in 2021 and then wasn't allowed to come in 2022 someone explain that to me. And now he's still not able to play? It's absurd, in my opinion. We'll see what happens."

The 35-year-old Serbian superstar did not play the 2022 US Open or US Open Series because he's unable to enter the United States as an unvaccinated international traveler.

Djokovic was welcomed back in Australia where he captured his 10th Australian Open championship last month to match rival Rafael Nadal's men's major mark with his 22nd Grand Slam title.

Given the historical stakes, McEnroe says it would "be a damn shame" if Djokovic is denied entry. 

"It would be absurd if he couldn't play Indian Wells or Miami or any other tournament in the U.S. especially the US Open," McEnroe said. "This is a historic time in our sport, obviously with him and Rafa both at 22

"It's pretty interesting if you ask me so it would be a damn shame [if Djokovic can't enter the U.S.]"

Photo credit: Laver Cup Facebook