Novak Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells over Covid vaccination status

Tournament announces world No 1's withdrawal although Miami Open still hopeful he can play

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Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from this week's Indian Wells Masters, tournament organisers confirmed on Monday, after the world No 1 was denied entry into the US because of his Covid-19 vaccination status.

Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, had applied for special permission to enter the US, which requires foreign visitors to provide proof of vaccination. That policy is expected to be relaxed on April 10.

However, the news of the 22-time Grand Slam champion's withdrawal from Indian Wells suggests his request has been rejected.

"World No 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open," Indian Wells posted on Twitter. "With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field."

There is no word yet whether Djokovic will also be forced to withdraw from the Miami Open – the second of the Masters 1000 tournaments this month which makes up the "sunshine double" and begins on March 22.

"Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a six-time champion of the Miami Open," the Miami Open wrote on Twitter on Friday. "We hope he is allowed entry into the country so Floridians have the opportunity to see him compete once again."

Covid entry rules in the US saw Djokovic miss the US Open last year and he was also deported from Australia in January 2022, having arrived in Melbourne with a medical exemption authorities ultimately deemed was insufficient.

The Serb, 35, most recently competed last week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where he reached the semi-finals to bring an end to his perfect start to the season.

After his quarter-final victory against Hubert Hurcazsk, Djokovic said he would withdraw from Indian Wells before the draw is made to avoid any late disruption to the tournament.

"Whatever the decision is before the draw, if I'm not allowed, I'm going to pull out, of course," he said.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 9:55 AM