On Sunday, the Serb won his 21st Grand Slam title by beating Nick Kyrgios in the final to win another Wimbledon trophy, for the seventh time and fourth in a row at SW19.
However, in its current form, Djokovic’s immediate future remains unclear. As a result of his Covid-19 vaccination stance, his current participation in the upcoming US and Australian Grand Slams has been called into question.
“I just needed time to weather the storm”
Djokovic has been through a tough couple of months off the court and it’s reflected in his game on him.
In January, Djokovic was eventually deported from Australia after a protracted saga including time in detention that prevented his participation in the Australian Open due to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Although he is slowly but surely returning to duty, the former number 1 in the world. 1 said that during this time he had to “survive the storm”.
“The first months of this year have affected me,” he said after winning Wimbledon. “Psychologically and emotionally, I was not in the best condition. I felt tremendous pressure.
“It caused a storm inside me. I just needed time to weather the storm. At some point, I realized that it would just take time, and that’s it, it’s time for me to regroup, to come to an optimal balanced state on the court, outside the court.
Goran Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach and 2001 Wimbledon winner, praised the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s ability to come back after a “tough year”.
“What happened to him was a huge event. After a couple of weeks, we all expected from him: “OK, forget about Australia, let’s go back and practice. It doesn’t happen like that,” Ivanishevich said.
“It took a long time, Monte Carlo, Belgrade, then he started to play better, Madrid, Rome. Even he played well in Paris, but Rafa (Nadal) was the best player that night.
“For some people, they don’t get better. They will never play tennis. It was a big shock. It was a shock to me and I was there. I was free.
“It’s incredible how he recovered and how he got through it. For me it’s really heroic, because it was not easy to digest all this and return to playing tennis. Then you think: “Why (should) you have to play tennis'”
Although he has returned to compete in selected tournaments, his Covid-19 vaccination stance limits his participation in others.
During that year, he missed US tournaments such as the Indian Wells or the Miami Open because any non-US citizen must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to obtain a visa and enter the country.
And as it stands, he will not be allowed to play in the US Open due to start on August 29 because he has not been vaccinated.
Djokovic hasn’t been particularly optimistic about playing at Flushing Meadows given the current state of affairs, though he did say he “really enjoys” playing there.
“I am not vaccinated and do not plan to be vaccinated, so the only good news I can report is that they are removing the mandatory green vaccination card or whatever you call it for entry into the United States or release,” he said.
“I don’t think release is really possible. If it’s possible, I don’t know what the release will be about. I dont know. I don’t have many answers there. so that I can get to the USA.
In fact, due to current Australian immigration laws, a 35-year-old player will also not be allowed to play in the 2023 Australian Open.
This could mean that Djokovic, one of the greatest tennis players, will next take to the court in May 2023 at the French Open.
He is still one Grand Slam title behind Nadal’s all-time record of 21 and, giving some indication of what he sees in his future, prioritizing the biggest events will be his main focus.
“Honestly, I doubt that I will be chasing points,” he explained. “As I understood from my agent today, winning the Grand Slams will get you into the world tour finals, unless you make it into the top 20, which I don’t know. With the accumulated points so far, I think I will be in the top 20.
“I think I have a good chance of getting into the final already. I will not burden myself with the fact that you really need to go and play tournaments and earn points.
“I don’t really feel any pressure or need to play to a certain schedule. And over the past year, a year and a half, everything has changed for me. I achieved that historic No. 1, weeks for No. 1, which I have worked for all my life. Now that it’s done and cleaned up, I really prefer slams and big tournaments and places where I want to play where I feel good.
He added: “Maybe the Laver Cup, Davis Cup coming soon. I love playing for my country. let’s say the tournaments that I have in my head right now.”