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Novak Djokovic free to play French Open after vaccine mandate change

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Novak Djokovic’s next attempt to play a grand slam should go much more smoothly after France announced it would end the need for vaccine passes this month.

The unvaccinated Djokovic, who was kicked out of Australia in January over a storm about his initial exemption to play in the year’s first major at Melbourne Park, will be free to defend his French Open crown in May.

There has been uncertainty about whether the Serbian would be able to contest future grand slams this year depending on what the rules around vaccination were, but he has a clear run towards a third career title at Roland Garros.

As of March 14 the French government will no longer require people to prove they’re vaccinated to enter public places like cafes and restaurants — and tennis stadiums — meaning it’s far more likely Djokovic will be able to play in Paris in May.

The 34-year-old will also be free to play the Monte Carlo Masters event in April, which kicks off the clay court swing.

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Whether other countries follow suit and relax their Covid restrictions too will determine how many more tournaments Djokovic is able to play this year, after he made a comeback to the court in Dubai last month.

He lost in the third round and subsequently gave up his world No. 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev, who became the first man since 2004 outside tennis’ “Big Four” of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to occupy top spot.

Meanwhile, it was revealed earlier this week Djokovic’s longtime coach and mentor is no longer part of his team after the pair split up following last year’s ATP Finals in Turin.

Djokovic and Marian Vajda, who has guided the Serb for 14 of the past 15 years, have ended their professional relationship. They started working together in 2006 and separated once before, after which Djokovic’s results hit the skids.

Novak Djokovic

The pair partnered back up and enjoyed more success as Vajda has been by Djokovic’s side for every one of his 20 grand slam title wins.

Tennis Majors reported the coaching break-up is because Vajda, 56, wants to spend more time with his family and has nothing to do with the visa and deportation dramas that rocked Djokovic’s attempt to play the Australian Open in January.

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“Marian has been by my side during the most important and memorable moments in my career,” Djokovic said.

“Together we have achieved some incredible things and I am very grateful for his friendship and dedication over the last 15 years.

“While he might be leaving the professional team he will always be family and I can’t thank him enough for all he has done.

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