Djokovic breaks silence on missing US Open last year, drops 'disrespectful' remark as potential Alcaraz final fuels
Djokovic, who faced the media on Friday ahead of his US Open campaign, admitted that he harbored no resentment over missing out the tournament last year.
Novak Djokovic is back in the United States, and back in New York for the first time in two years. The Serb had missed the tournament last year as he was not allowed to enter the country owing to the government's restriction of the entry of unvaccinated foreigners. However, the 36-year-old, who made a thumping return to the U.S with a Cincinnati title haul against Carlos Alcaraz last week, will be back on the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday when the main draw of the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year gets underway.
In addition to the US Open and the North-American hard court swing, Djokovic was denied entry for Miami Open and Indian Wells as well last year because of a federal rule related to the pandemic. But Djokovic, who faced the media on Friday ahead of his US Open campaign, admitted that he harbored no resentment over missing out the tournaments last year.
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“No, there was no anger. It was last year during the Open that I felt it's a pity that I'm not there. I felt sad for not being able to participate,” Djokovic said with a shrug of his shoulders, draped in a gray hoodie. “But this year, I mean, is this year. I don't think about what happened in the last year or last couple of years. Just focusing my attention to this year's tournament.”
'I think it's in a way disrespectful to...'
One of the biggest talking point pertaining to Djokovic draw has been the possible encounter with Alcaraz in the final. The brewing rivalry has become the cynosure of the ATP field, especially after back-to-back thrillers - in Wimbledon, where the Spaniard won in five-sets, and in Cincinnati, where the Serb bounced battled through heatstroke to claim his third title in an intense clash.
With the overall head-to-head record standing 2-2, and the vast gap the two have created between them and the rest of the field with their stunning rivalry, a potential final is all that has gathered attraction ever since the announcement of the draw. But Djokovic warned against such speculations as it felt it was disrespectful towards other players in the draw.
“I think it's also in a way disrespectful to your next opponent if you're already thinking about your finals matchup. Even though I've had tremendous success, maybe you could argue that I could already start thinking about later phases and stages in the tournament, but that kind of mindset never really resonated with me.
“But Carlos is No. 1 in the world. He's definitely one of the best players in the world the last couple years. Sure, there's always an eye that follows him from my team, from any other team. I know that the same goes for me probably. We follow each other. I'm sure his team watches my matches. My team watches his matches. It's no secret. But seriously working on a practice court on something that is related to Alcaraz, it only happens if I get to play him.”