Novak Djokovic caught up in Indian Wells farce: 'It's a disgrace'

The World No.1 looks set to miss out on the tournament for a second year running.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) speaking at the Australian Open press conference.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) looks set to miss the Indian Wells tournament in the US for a second straight year, which has sparked Tommy Haas to blast the situation. (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic looks set to miss the Indian Wells tournament in the US for a second straight year, which has prompted tournament director Tommy Haas to blast the ongoing drama. The Australian Open champion was once again named in the Indian Wells entry list, alongside Rafa Nadal, for the tournament starting in March.

Djokovic didn't play Indian Wells or the Miami Open last year due to the strict US restrictions around unvaccinated visitors entering the country. The US is set to relax the rules around unvaccinated visitors entering the country on May 11.

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However, this is set to take place after Indian Wells' main draw on March 9. And tournament director, and former player, Tommy Haas has blasted the scenario surrounding Djokovic.

The 22-time grand slam champion is a five-time Indian Wells champion, level with Roger Federer, and is a huge draw card for the tournament that is often referred to as the 'fifth grand slam'. And Haas feels the ongoing restrictions that are blocking Djokovic from playing are a 'disgrace'.

"It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those [restrictions] a little earlier and have him [Djokovic] come to play Indian Wells and Miami," Haas said. "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.”

The World No.1 revealed his desire to play at Indian Wells during his Adelaide International triumph. However, Djokovic has come to terms with the fact the decision is out of his hands.

Djokovic, one of the most high-profile unvaccinated athletes in the world, missed last year's Australian Open and was deported from the country due to his vaccine status. However, Djokovic fulfilled his redemption story after winning a record 10th Australian Open title and drawing level with Nadal with his 22nd grand slam.

The Serbian also regained the World No.1 ranking, despite only playing a limited number of tournaments in 2022. Fortunately for Djokovic, he is set to play all four grand slams in 2023.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) kissing the Australian Open trophy.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) won the Australian Open for a record 10th time. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal expected to play at Indian Wells

While Djokovic appears unlikely to appear in America, Nadal could take part in the year's 'fifth grand slam'. Nadal is recovering from an injury he picked up in his second round loss at the Australian Open.

Nadal said he would be out for up to eight weeks with the injury, but could be set to return for Indian Wells. This is unless the Spaniard opts to skip the hard court tournament and focus on winning another Roland Garros.

Other than Nadal, teenage World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz, defending champion and World No.8 Taylor Fritz and Australia's 20th-ranked Nick Kyrgios were among those named on Wednesday's entry list.

One the women's side, World No.1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and rising Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff will compete for the prestigious title.

with AAP

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