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Rafael Nadal Reacts To Novak Djokovic's Absence From U.S. Open

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - Day Seven

Novak Djokovic, the second all-time Grand Slam winner (21), will not be in the tournament field at this year's U.S. Open.

Rafael Nadal, No. 1 on the all-time Grand Slam list (22), shared his thoughts on his rival's absence at the major event.

“It’s very sad news. Not having one of the best players of the history in the draw of a grand slam is an important miss," Nadal said, per James Gray. "We want to have the best field possible. But the sport is, in some ways, bigger than any player.”

Djokovic withdrew from the 2022 U.S. Open on Thursday due to travel restrictions into the United States. The former World No. 1 is famously unvaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

The tennis superstar has already missed several events this year due to vaccine requirements.

Despite the absence of one of the sport's brightest stars, "the world of tennis keeps going."

The first round of the 2022 U.S. Open will begin on Monday. Nadal will play his opening match against Australian Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday evening.

Nadal can extend his one-win Grand Slam lead over Djokovic with a title in this year's event.