John McEnroe labels Novak Djokovic’s US Open absence ‘b******t’

John McEnroe has urged the US to let Novak Djokovic enter the country (Getty Images for The Laver Cup)
John McEnroe has urged the US to let Novak Djokovic enter the country (Getty Images for The Laver Cup)

John McEnroe has said it is “b******t” that Novak Djokovic cannot play at the US Open.

The fourth and final major of the tennis calendar gets under way at Flushing Meadows in New York next week but the Serbian star will not get the chance to win a fourth US Open and 22nd grand slam title.

Djokovic remains unvaccinated against Covid-19 and visitors are prohibited from gaining a US visa without proof of vaccination.

“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for US Open,” Djokovic announced on social media on Thursday. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”

McEnroe, four times a US Open champion during his career, thinks Djokovic is “gutsy” to continue to defy entry requirements to the detriment of his career.

“I think it’s b******t that he’s not allowed to play, to be blunt,” McEnroe told the Daily Beast. “I think it’s quite a gutsy stand, in a way, to do what he’s doing, because he’s potentially sacrificing being unequivocally the best ever, since he got thrown out of Australia… If he’s not in New York, this is another one that he could have won. So he’s risking something, but that’s also what made him so great.”

McEnroe continued: “This idea that after everything we’ve gone through after a couple of years, I thought it was a total debacle and an absolute shitshow that he got thrown out of Australia the way he did. That was absurd.”

The 35-year-old was also unable to defend his Australian Open crown this year after being deported from the country over his vaccination status.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) described Djokovic’s absence as “unfortunate” but looked forward to having him back at Flushing Meadows next year.

“Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-U.S. citizens,” said U.S. Open tournament director Stacey Allaster in a statement.

“We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 US Open.”