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Djokovic: Extra Motivation For Wimbledon Defense

By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, June 26, 2022

Uncertainty over Flushing Meadows is firing up Novak Djokovic for his Wimbledon title defense.

The six-time Wimbledon winner is playing for a fourth consecutive title at The Championships—and to close the gap on 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the major race.

More: Wimbledon Paths for Swiatek and Serena

Meeting the media at Wimbledon, Djokovic said uncertainty over if he will be permitted entry into the United States as an unvaccinated player, gives him "extra motivation" for this Wimbledon fortnight.

"As of today, I'm not allowed to enter the States under these circumstances. Yes, of course, I'm aware of that," Djokovic said. "That is an extra motivation to do well here.

"Hopefully I can have a very good tournament, as I have done in the last three editions. Then I'll just have to wait and see. I would love to go to States. But as of today, that's not possible.

"There is not much I can do any more. I mean, it's really up to the U.S. government to make a decision whether or not they allow unvaccinated people to go into the country."

If U.S. officials deny Djokovic entry into the country it will mark the second Grand Slam he'd miss this season. Djokovic was bounced out of Australia in January because of his unvaccinated status, which prevented him from defending his title.

Though the Serbian lost his world No. 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev, who is among the Russians and Belarusians banned from The Championships due this year in condemnation of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Djokovic said playing without ranking points at stake is not as impactful to him as others. That's because once the 20-time Grand Slam champion broke the record for most weeks as ATP world No. 1, Grand Slams, rather than the top spot, take priority.

"It would probably affect more other players than myself, to be honest," Djokovic said. "I don't want to say the ranking points are not important for me. Of course, they are. But not as they were, you know, up to recently.

"Now I'm not really chasing the ranking as much as I have, until I was breaking record for longest weeks at No. 1. Then after that it just wasn't as I think important in terms of priority for me.

"Of course I understand that 90-plus percent of the players who are playing in this tournament and the ones that are not playing are going to be more affected by points. Of course, this year I didn't have a chance to defend 4,000 points, in Australia 2,000, 2,000 here. That affects my ranking in general, of course. But my priorities are different now. So, of course, I'm not as affected, so to say."

Photo credit: Getty