Tennis-Djokovic withdraws from Canada event, Murray handed wildcard

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FILE PHOTO: ATP Masters 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters

(Reuters) -Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from next week's U.S. Open tune-up event in Canada as he cannot enter the country without being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, tournament organisers said on Thursday while handing Andy Murray one of four wildcards.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic, whose withdrawal was announced a day before the official draw ceremony, has refused to take the vaccine but was included on the entry list for the ATP 1000 hardcourt event in Montreal when it was released in mid-July.

To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, an individual must have received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.

Along with world number six Djokovic, Tennis Canada said Germany's Oscar Otte also withdrew and that Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios of Australia and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi were entered into the main draw.

Djokovic, who remains on the entry list for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 U.S. Open in New York, has previously said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Serbian was unable to defend his Australian Open crown this year after being deported from the country over his vaccination status in January.

Tennis Canada also handed out Montreal wildcards to three-times Grand Slam champion and former world number one Murray, Belgian David Goffin and Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau.

Briton Murray, a three-times champion in Canada, has risen to No. 50 from 134 in the rankings this season and has reached the finals in Sydney and Stuttgart.

Goffin returns to action after reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in July, Pospisil was a Montreal semi-finalist in 2013 while Galarneau, 23, will be making his debut in the main draw of the event.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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