Novak Djokovic looks set to miss the Miami Open and Indian Wells for a second year running after the US extended a vaccination mandate until April. The World No.5 missed the ATP 1000 events in 2022 due to his vaccination status - and it looks like he won't be able to play them again this year.
United States authorities announced on Wednesday that non-nationals still need to show proof of vaccination to get into the country. A statement from the Transportation Security Administration said the requirement for foreign air travellers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 would be in place until April 10.
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Indian Wells is set to take place from March 6-19, while the Miami Open will run from March 20-April 2. That means Djokovic is at serious risk of missing the ATP's two major hard-court tournaments if he continues to decide not to be vaccinated.
Djokovic was infamously deported from Australia before the Australian Open in January last year due to his vaccination status. He also wasn't allowed into the United States for key tournaments including the US Open, sliding down the rankings from World No.1 as a result.
Tennis fans and commentators took to social media to question the wisdom of the US decision. Some labelled it 'idiotic' and 'ridiculous'.
— michael epps (@michael_epps) January 4, 2023
— Alex Dimitrov (@alexdimitrov) January 4, 2023
Maaaan that's ridiculous, they just have to stop this nonsense
— Fran León (@fleon1114) January 4, 2023
It’s not good☹️
Don’t want to criticize other countries, in my opinion I hope they can give more explanation about their policy. (Different from the previous years, other Western countries have also opened for the non-vaccination)
— ライブルマ@結灯、涙香、志乃羽推し (@raibura_Goatdal) January 4, 2023
Saddly other players are probably celebrating, wishing for it to extend beyond US Open. Carlos will extend his weeks at no1 because of it. So embarrassing.
— manuel gasse (@manuelgasse) January 4, 2023
Novak Djokovic holds no grudges against Australia
With Australia having now lifted its proof of vaccination requirements, the 21-time grand slam champion is back Down Under and will be out for revenge when the Australian Open starts on January 16. The nine-time Australian Open champion is preparing in Adelaide after his three-year travel ban from the country was waived in November.
Speaking after his first-round win in Adelaide, Djokovic said he holds no grudges against Australia despite what transpired 12 months ago. "What you focus on, you become. If I focus on the negatives, that's what I'll attract, so I don't want to do that. I don't hold a grudge," he said.
"I am here to play tennis, to enjoy sports and spread good energy. To see the packed house for my first match was definitely a very pleasant surprise, and lots of support, lots of love.
"Every experience and every day that I had so far my visit this year was positive. The people that I encountered on the beach or in restaurants or wherever I was kind of roaming around ... everybody was very welcoming."
The Serbian star's arrival in Australia was much smoother this time around. He said: "Well, I kind of was joking around with my team hoping that I can enter Australia this time, and that's what happened.
"It was really, I would say, normal. As with any other year coming into Australia except the last year, easy through the passport control, landed well. All was great. Got picked up by official transportation and got to the hotel and moved on with my day."
Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open in Djokovic's absence last year. But Djokovic now has the chance to win his 10th title at Melbourne Park to go equal with Nadal on 22 majors.
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