Nick Kyrgios conqueror clarifies Novak Djokovic remark amid US Open ban saga

Serena Williams announces she is ‘evolving away from tennis’

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Taylor Fritz, who defeated Nick Kyrgios in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday, has insisted that he did not mean to disrespect Novak Djokovic by claiming that he would be happy over the Serb’s potential ban from this year’s US Open. Djokovic is widely expected to miss out on the final Grand Slam of the year at Flushing Meadows due to the country’s strict entry requirements with regards to those who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fritz was recently quizzed on the matter and responded by suggesting that every player at the US Open would welcome the absence of Djokovic when on-court proceedings get underway later this month. The American challenger has since moved to clarify his position after receiving criticism on social media by explaining that his reply was tongue-in-cheek and that it should have been taken as a compliment towards Djokovic rather than an insult.

“Nothing new, they attack me because I made a joke that Novak is better than everyone,” Fritz told reporters after his latest win over Wimbledon runner-up Kyrgios.

“The problem with media transcripts is that it’s just raw text and it’s not clear how things are said. What I said in jest seemed more like a compliment to Novak than anything else.”

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It remains to be seen whether Djokovic will eventually be prevented from taking part in this year’s US Open, the tournament at which he was denied a stunning Calendar Slam at the final hurdle by Daniil Medvedev almost 12 months ago. The 35-year-old has insisted that he would like to feature at the event but will be prevented from doing so unless the ban on unvaccinated players entering the country is lifted over the coming weeks.

Djokovic’s presence would surely be missed if he does not take to the court at Flushing Meadows in the wake of his latest Wimbledon triumph, which looks set to represent his only major tournament victory of the entire year as things stand. He recently pleaded with US Open chiefs to allow him to compete in spite of his refusal to get vaccinated, instead asking those in power to respect his personal beliefs.

“I want to be in America, I want to be everywhere I can possibly play,” Djokovic told reporters at the opening of a tennis centre in Bosnia last month.

“I am a professional tennis player, I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me. I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and at least I expect people to respect my decision.

“If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there, it’s not the end of the world. I still feel young in my own skin, I feel I have many more years to come so there will be a lot of opportunities.”

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