Novak Djokovic, last seen winning the Australian Open with a 3cm torn hamstring, is back on the tennis court this week. He was sprinting through the fields of the Dubai Championship before being stopped by Daniil Medvedev in Friday’s semi-final.
But Djokovic’s train is destined to screech to a halt as the tennis calendar gets serious again, with two of the most important non-Grand Slam tournaments due in California and Miami later this month. It seems that.
Djokovic is once again the world’s number one men’s singles player and is eager to play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. next week and the Miami Open later this month. In recent weeks, he has requested an exemption from the rule barring people who are not permanent residents of the United States from entering the United States unless they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
What has come as a huge surprise to Djokovic and some of the sport’s biggest names is that things aren’t going well, and the time is running out for Djokovic to pull out of the tournament before he can’t play anymore. bracket.
Friday afternoon, USTA statement on twitter “The USTA and US Open are hopeful Novak will be able to successfully petition for entry so fans can see him in action in Indian Wells and Miami.”
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and television commentator John McEnroe has pointed out that Djokovic cannot play in the United States.foolish“If President Biden doesn’t change his mind, and that’s what we need at this point, Djokovic has to pull out by Sunday,” the director of Indian Wells said in an interview Wednesday.
Haas, the German-born former world No. 2, is lobbying multiple organizations to try to find a way to lure Djokovic to the United States. The U.S. Tennis Association has been in contact with government contacts, but has yet to formally reach out. on behalf of Djokovic.
“Novak’s situation is obviously frustrating for us,” Haas said. “I want the best tennis player in the world to come here. is. How can we tell if this is realistic? But at the end of the day, unfortunately, it’s not in our hands and that’s the source of our frustration. ”
A spokesman for Djokovic did not respond to an email requesting comment.
“Right now, everything is going on,” Djokovic said late last month in Belgrade, Serbia. “I have a great desire to be there.
Djokovic, a five-time Indian Wells champion, has not explained why he believes he is eligible for the waiver. He hasn’t been vaccinated, but the only reason he’s ever given his choice is that he believes people should have the right to decide whether or not to get vaccinated. That’s it.
Djokovic’s situation isn’t the only troubling development for the Indian Wells Games.
Rafael Nadal, still recovering from a foot injury sustained in the second round of the Australian Open, withdrew earlier this week. Nadal hates missing Indian Wells not only because he won the tournament three times. Nadal often stays at the home of Larry Ellison, founder of the technology company Oracle, which owns the tournament, allowing Nadal to play a lot of golf in his off time.
Another worrisome development for both Indian Wells and tennis during last weekend’s game in Rio de Janeiro saw 19-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz aggravate a hamstring pull that put him out of the Australian Open. Injuries forced him to withdraw from the tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, this week. Alcaraz thrilled the crowd when he won his US Open in September.
Even without the biggest stars, Indian Wells is always one of the highlights of the schedule. Players repeatedly rank tournaments among the best in the world. It is a destination for locals and tourists. For now, it looks like the snow has disappeared from Southern California. The vast majority of the nearly 500,000 fans who attend the two-week event (including qualifiers) come from outside the Palm Springs area.
It also helps that US tennis is in the midst of a small boom. The USTA announced last month that 2022 will see attendance grow for his third straight year, with more than 1 million new entrants. Overall, in 2022 he will have played tennis at least once He will be 23.6 million, and the pandemic has forced many new and lapsed players to return to the sport He is 5.9 million since early 2020 , or an increase of 33%.
Still, without a last-minute change in policy or a decision to grant waivers, no one is there to play the sport better than anyone else.
It is not clear why Djokovic believes he is eligible for the exemption. According to the website of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Last month, the House passed a bill to repeal vaccination requirements 227-203, with seven Democrats voting in favor of all Republicans. Supporters of the bill said U.S. policy is out of step with the rest of the world, which has largely eliminated vaccination requirements for foreigners. It won’t automatically end in May, when the Biden administration plans to end the Covid-19 national and public health emergency declared in 2020, according to Reuters.
Ending mandatory vaccinations for foreign travelers will most likely require another order from President Biden, ending the presidential proclamation that put it into effect.
Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio on Fridaysend a letter to president biden He urged him to grant a waiver that would allow Djokovic to play at the Miami Open.
Indian Wells tournament director Haas said there are bright spots in the absence of Djokovic, Nadal and possibly Alcaraz, at least for other players.
“If I come in like a young American, listen, this is my time to lift the trophy,” Haas said. From my perspective of not being able to fight, it’s obviously sad and frustrating.”