Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, whose refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 makes him unable to enter Canada, has officially withdrawn from the ATP hardcourt tournament in Montreal, organisers said on Thursday.
The Serbian star’s unvaccinated status made it unlikely he would play in the prestigious ATP Masters tournament, just as it means he will probably miss the US Open starting later in August as the United States also requires visitors to the country to show proof of vaccination.
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Earlier this month, Montreal Masters tournament director Eugene Lepierre said he did not expect Djokovic to play.
“Either the Canadian government is going to change the rules regarding vaccination or he is going to roll up his sleeves and get the vaccine. But I don’t think any of those scenarios are realistic,” Lepierre said.
Germany’s Oscar Otte has also withdrawn from the tournament which starts on Monday with Benjamin Bonzi of France and Australia’s Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios moving into the main draw, Tennis Canada said.
In addition, three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray was handed a wildcard on Thursday, along with Belgian David Goffin and Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau.
Britain’s Murray, a former world number one who won the Canadian title in 2009, 2010 and 2015, has been rising in the rankings this season from 134th to 50th.
He reached finals in Sydney in January and Stuttgart in June, but fell in the first round in Washington earlier this week to Sweden’s Mikael Ymer.
Despite that disappointment, Murray said on Monday he believes he can get his ranking high enough to earn a seeding at the US Open, which he won a decade ago.
“It’s still possible,” he said. “I would just need to have a good run in Canada or Cincinnati really. It’s pretty straightforward if I was to make a quarter-final or a semi-final, which right now – after a loss like that – doesn’t seem realistic.
“I do feel like if I play very well that I could do that. But I’ll need to certainly play better than I did today.”
Meanwhile, Kyrgios has continued his preparation for the last grand slam of the year with a strong win over Tommy Paul at the Washington Open on Thursday (AEST).
The Australian was challenged in just his second singles match since Wimbledon and had to play his best tennis to defeat Paul 6-3 6-4.
Kyrgios was locked in, firing off 15 aces including one rocket at 218km/h.
He was superb in the clutch moments — saving all four break points he faced and converting three out of four of his own break point opportunities.
Kyrgios was up to his usual antics when he got stuck into the umpire after he was given a code violation for ball abuse.
But the Washington crowd was in his corner and he showed his soft side in the first set, when an elderly fan was hit in the face by a ball that took a wayward bounce into the stands.
Kyrgios went over and handed the spectator one of his towels.
He is chasing his second title in Washington and will next face fourth seed Reilly Opelka in the round of 16 on Friday.
– with Matthew Sullivan and AFP