BREAKING NEWS: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic pulls out of Indian Wells after appearing to lose in his last ditch effort to secure entry into the US despite not being vaccinated
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has formally withdrawn from the draw for the Indian Wells tournament, officials said on Sunday in an indication that his application for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption to enter the US may have failed.
The Serb, one of the most high-profile athletes not vaccinated against the virus, applied for special permission from the US government last month to play at ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami.
Current restrictions expire in April, leaving Djokovic free to play at the US Open this summer, but it appears he won’t receive any special treatment in his bid to make it to the United States early.
The 22-time grand slam winner wanted to play the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which starts on Monday, and the Miami Open. He currently plays in the latter.
Djokovic’s bid to enter the US earlier was even backed by the US Open and the United States Tennis Association, which had pleaded with the government to make an exception for the tennis great.
Novak Djokovic will not play at Indian Wells after withdrawing from the tournament on Sunday
His bid for special dispensation was supported by both the US Open (above) and the USTA
A post from the US Open Tennis Twitter account said: ‘Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest champions our sport has ever seen.
“The USTA and US Open hope that Novak succeeds in his petition to enter the country, and that fans can see him in action again in Indian Wells and Miami.”
Djokovic’s vaccination status meant he missed both the Australian Open – which saw him expelled – and the US Open last year.
With vaccination against Covid-19 no longer required to enter Australia, he successfully challenged a three-year ban on applying for a visa and was able to compete at the Australian Open in January, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
The Serb has just finished playing in Dubai and was ready to leave for America if allowed
The 22-time Grand Slam winner has missed numerous major tournaments due to his decision not to get the Covid-19 vaccine
Last week, the 35-year-old told a press conference covering Indian Wells and Miami: “I’m waiting for an answer, it’s not me. I’ll know soon.
“Everything is pending. I am grateful to the Indian Wells and Miami Tournament and communities for their public support.
“They want me to play in their tournaments. I’m very grateful for that because I have a great desire to be there, I haven’t played there for a few years.
“I look forward to a positive decision soon, but it is not in my hands.”