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Unable to enter the United States, Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells

Novak Djokovic is out of the Indian Wells Masters and will be replaced in the draw by Nikoloz Basilashvili. Djokovic has not played the tournament since 2019.

Novak Djokovic, 2023 Novak Djokovic, 2023 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Novak Djokovic officially withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday night.

Because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19, Djokovic — a five-time champion in Indian Wells — cannot currently enter the United States. The US government is planning to lift its travel restrictions in May., which means the world No 1 should be good to for for the US Open at the end of the summer. However, that’s obviously not in time for Indian Wells and Djokovic will likely be forced to also withdraw from the Miami Open.

Djokovic’s appeal unsuccessful

He had made appeal for immediate entry into the United States, per his brother Djordje Djokovic.

“Unfortunately, it is something that is out of our hands,” Djordje said in an interview with Serbian media outlet Tanjug last month. “Novak needs to get a special permission to enter, considering that the USA still doesn’t let unvaccinated foreigners into the country, which is unbelievable, considering that we have seen big sporting manifestations with unvaccinated athletes throughout the world.”

It wasn’t granted, however — much to the chagrin of Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas.

“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those (restrictions) a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami,” Haas said earlier this season. “I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully, we can have him there. I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.”

Djokovic is 50-9 lifetime at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden but has not lifted the trophy since 2016. The 35-year-old Serb was replaced on this year’s entry list by Nikoloz Basilashvili. Carlos Alcaraz, if he is healthy enough to play, will be the No 1 seed in Djokovic’s absence.

The same situation happened in 2022, as well. Djokovic did not withdraw until after the draw had already been made, so he was replaced by a lucky loser instead of the next player on the entry list.

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