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No U.S. Open Men’s Semifinalist Will Say If He’s Been Vaccinated For Covid—And 3 Have Voiced Skepticism

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 10, 2021


Despite the United States Tennis Association mandating that spectators provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination to attend the 2021 U.S. Open, players and their teams are not required to be vaccinated, and none of the men who have advanced to the semifinals will confirm if they have been vaccinated or not, though three have either stated flatly they don’t plan to get the shot or have raised concerns about the vaccine.

Key Facts

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has recently declined to answer whether or not he has received the jab, but in April of 2020 stated, “personally I’m opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

In May of this year, Djokovic said he hoped being vaccinated would not be mandated by tennis’ various governing bodies because he’s “always believed in freedom of choice.”

No. 2 ranked Daniil Medvedev, who advanced to the semifinals Wednesday, declared in February, “As for me personally, I will not be vaccinated for medical reasons related to vaccines,” according to

No. 4 ranked Alexander Zverev, who is making his second straight trip to the semis of the Open, told reporters in April he had not yet been vaccinated and he believes “everyone should act as they see fit,” adding “nowadays it’s easy to be misunderstood, whatever you say” and that the issue had become “too political for my taste.” 

The fourth quarterfinalist, 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, ranked 15th, is not believed to have publicly addressed his vaccination status.

Forbes reached out to representatives for Zverev, Medvedev and Auger-Aliassime to find out if they had been vaccinated but has not heard back—we will update the piece if we do.


World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was stunned in the third round of this year’s U.S. Open by 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, asserted last month he would refuse to take a Covid-19 vaccine unless it became mandatory. “I don’t see any reason for someone of my age to do it – it hasn’t been tested enough, and it has side effects,” Tsitsipas said at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, without providing any evidence of proven side effects. “As long as it’s not mandatory, everyone can decide for themselves,” he added. A spokesman for the Greek government, Giannis Oikonomou, refuted Tsitsipas’ claims, stating Tsitsipas “does not have the knowledge and studies to assess the need for vaccinations” and that Tsitsipas “has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion about it.”

Key Background:

Unlike most team sports in North America (the NBA, NFL, MLS and WNBA have also announced the vaccination rates of their players are 90% or higher), a large percentage of tennis pros have pushed back against Covid inoculation. And it hasn’t just been on the men’s side. Aryna Sabalenka, the No. 2 ranked female player in the world, spoke out against Covid-19 vaccines in March, stating, “I don’t really trust it” because “they just make it, like really quick and there wasn’t enough time to test it and to see what can happen.” Sabalenka added, “I don’t want my family to take it. If I have to do it, then, of course, I have to do it because our life is a travel life.” She was eliminated from the Open Thursday night by teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez in the women’s semifinals. Elina Svitolina, who lost to Fernandez in the quarterfinals earlier this week, said in the spring when she was asked about getting vaccinated, that it “makes almost, like, no sense to do something that has been tested for such a short period of time.” 

Big Number:

50%. A ​spokesperson for the Women’s Tennis Association told CNN earlier this month that “nearly 50%” of its players are vaccinated, with the spokesperson stating the organization “believes in and encourages everyone to get a vaccine,” but the decision to vaccinate was “a personal decision and one which we respect.” The ATP ​Tour told CNN its vaccination rate is “just above 50%.”​

Chief Critic:

In spite of outspoken hesitancy from many notable players, fans aged 12 and above have to prove they have received at least one dose of a vaccine to watch the US Open in person in Flushing Meadows. After her second-round match last week, former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka called the double standard “bizarre.” She told reporters she does not “see the point of stalling” a vaccine mandate for players on tour, “because we all want to be safe, we all want to continue doing our jobs.” Azarenka stated she respects other player’s opinions as long as “it’s not a conspiracy theory,” adding “part of the conversation that, really, you need to be knowledgeable to what you’re saying is missing in a lot of players.” Asked about Azarenka’s comments last week, Medvedev replied, “I understand why they did it to the fans. So far, it has not been applied to the players. As players, we can just follow the guidelines and rules.”

What To Watch For:

Andy Murray, a three-time grand slam champion, who has confirmed he is vaccinated, said before the start of the Open that “over the next few months, things are going to probably end up changing quite a bit. I know the conversations with regards to the Australian Open and stuff are already happening.” Murray, who was eliminated by Tsitsipas in the first round of this year’s Open, says he is happy he has received his jab and hopes more players choose to get inoculated in the months ahead. “Ultimately, I guess the reason why all of us are getting vaccinated is to look out for the wider public,” Murray explained, adding, “we have a responsibility as players that are traveling across the world to look out for everyone else as well.”


Djokovic announced last June that he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19 after he played in a series of exhibition matches he organized, which drew criticism for their lack of safety precautions for players, including a lack of social distancing. In January, Zverev wrote in an Instagram post that 2020 was challenging in part because when he reached his first Grand Slam final (last year’s U.S. Open), both of his parents and his brother were unable to attend because they had contracted the coronavirus. Medvedev was forced to withdraw from the Monte Carlo Masters in April following a positive test. He won only one match in the following two tournaments he entered and acknowledged that the virus had taken a toll on him physically. Medvedev said he was only at “maybe 70% or 60%” a month later in May, adding, “even if I tried to do some physical, I was also not feeling that well, so I couldn’t do much.

Further Reading:

Tennis’ governing bodies continue to urge players to get vaccinated ahead of US Open (CNN)

Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas At Center Of Raging U.S. Open Vaccination Debate (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus


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