Novak Djokovic has been adamant that he would rather miss out on defining tennis trophies than be forced to get the Covid vaccine – and the full financial extent of his jab decision has now been laid bare. The Serbian icon last year claimed that missing the most eminent tournaments in the sport was a “price that I’m willing to pay.”
And while serial-winner Djokovic is hardly likely to be counting the cost, the 22-time Grand Slam champion has missed out on prize money to the tune of £9.3m due to his vaccine status over the past year and a bit. Djokovic is unable to compete in this week’s Miami Open in a fresh blow after again being denied entry into the United States.
US travel rules dictate that international visitors need proof of vaccination until at least April 10, and Djokovic will now miss out on the Sunshine Double after his absence from last week’s Indian Wells in California due to a failure in his bid to gain special exemption into the country.
Djokovic’s omission from the US events – two of the most prestigious outside the Grand Slams – has proved a blow to tournament directors who were keen for the 35-year-old to take part.
He has also now lost his world No.1 place after Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz regained his spot at the summit of the ATP rankings by winning the Indian Wells title.
In total, Djokovic has missed eight big-money events due to his jab decision, which first sparked a global media storm when he was deported from Australia on the eve of last year’s Australian Open.
It is perhaps improbable that Djokovic would have claimed titles in all the eight events he has missed, but, such has been his dominance in men’s tennis in recent years, not implausible. And as the world relaxes its Covid restrictions, he will desperately hope the Miami Open is the last tournament he won’t compete in due to his vaccine status.
He has not only missed out on silverware with key absences from the 2022 editions of the Australian Open and the US Open, but he also huge prize funds with deep runs in the two hard court Grand Slams. The Aussie Open had a winner’s cheque of £1.57m, while £2.1m was at stake at Flushing Meadows.
Meanwhile, bans from competing in the Indian Wells and Miami Open twice, plus the Cincinnati Masters and Canadian Open, cost him combined potential earnings of nearly £6m.
Last year’s Wimbledon victory also saw Djokovic miss out on stacks of ranking points due as the SW19 showpiece was stripped of ranking status due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. And he would almost certainly be well ahead of new No.1 Alcaraz without limitations to his tournament schedule over the past 14 months. A heavy price has undoubtedly been paid.