Here's why Novak Djokovic has pulled out of Indian Wells
Serbian ace Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the upcoming Indian Wells Masters after he was denied entry into the United States. Reportedly, the world number required special permission to travel as he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. According to the incumbent rules, international visitors in the US should be vaccinated, and they require proof of the same until at least 10 April.
Why does this story matter?
- This is not the first time Djokovic has made headlines for missing an ATP tournament due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
- The 22-time Grand Slam winner missed the Australian Open and the US Open last year after refusing to get a jab.
- Djokovic, who arrived in Australia with a COVID-19 vaccine exemption, was deported ahead of the 2022 edition.
Nikoloz Basilashvili enters in place of Djokovic
The United States Tennis Association and the US Open, on Friday, said they were "hopeful" that Djokovic would be cleared to play in this month's Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1,000 events. However, the organizers, on Monday, stated that "World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field."
Djokovic's controversy at Australian Open 2022
In January 2022, the border authorities in Australia canceled Djokovic's visa upon arrival. He was sent to immigration detention before his lawyers filed an appeal. Although his team won the case, the government re-canceled his visa. The judges rejected Djokovic's appeal thereafter. Djokovic was cleared to play the tournament this year. He beat Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim a record-equaling 22nd major title.
Djokovic has lost just one match in 2023
Djokovic recently featured in the Dubai Tennis Championships. He lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final. Before this, the former won a record-extending 10th Australian Open title. Djokovic has lost just one match in 2023, having earlier won the Adelaide International 1.
Djokovic breaks Steffi Graf's record
Djokovic recently surpassed Steffi Graf's record for the most weeks as world number one after entering a 378th week at the top of the men's rankings. The former was back as the top-ranked ranked men's singles player in the ATP Rankings after winning the 2023 Australian Open. In March 2021, Djokovic broke legend Roger Federer's record (310) for the most weeks at number one.