Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells amid visa row

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World no. 1 Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells tournament, the organizers said on Monday, which indicates that the Serbs’ application for special permission to enter the US might have been denied.

The Serbian great asked American authorities last month for special permission to enter the United States despite being unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

“World No 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field,” organizers said in a statement.

Unvaccinated air travelers are still prohibited from entering the States until the middle of May. The US vaccine requirement for foreign is not expected to be lifted before the main draw begins at Indian Wells and the Miami Open later in the month.

The 22-time grand slam winner was hopeful of playing in Indian Wells, which starts on Monday, and the Miami Open. His bid to enter the US had even been backed by the US Open and the United States Tennis Association, who had implored the government to make an exception for the tennis great.

“Novak Djokovic is one the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami,” a post from the US Open Tennis Twitter account read.

The 35-year-old missed last year’s Australian Open as he was deported from the country over his vaccine status. The Serb returned to the tournament in January after Australia lifted its strict vaccine mandate to win his 22nd Grand Slam title, tying the record with Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic’s vaccination status led to him missing both the Australian Open and US Open last year.

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