Serbian tennis star and reigning No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djovokic, has been denied entry into the United States for the March swing of the ATP tour known as the “Sunshine Double” consisting of the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Open.
Djovokic, who is not vaccinated for COVID-19, applied for a U.S. government exemption to the rule that unvaccinated non-US residents cannot enter the country unless vaccinated.
Novak Djokovic out of Sunshine Double as vaccine exemption denied confirms Florida's Senator. #tennis #NovakDjokovic𓃵 pic.twitter.com/o5Ilax4rby
— FirstSportz Tennis (@FS_Tennis1) March 4, 2023
Just days before Indian Wells is set to begin, it is being reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied Djokovic’s exemption request.
Current US rules regarding unvaccinated nonresidents are due to expire on May 11, 2023.
The United States Tennis Association supported Djokovic in his efforts to get an exemption.
Whereas the US Tennis Federation and US Open have claimed that Novak Djokovic should be allowed to play in the USA, a senator just said that his exemption request have been DENIED.
The thriller continues 🍿 https://t.co/d4BQHDRarZ
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) March 4, 2023
What It Means For Men’s Tennis
This opens the door for the younger players behind the Big 3 of Djokovic, the now-retired Roger Federer, and the injured Rafael Nadal to continue to gain footing in the world rankings.
American Taylor Fritz is the defending champion at Indian Wells having defeated Rafael Nadal in 2022.
Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is the defending Miami Open champion.
It opens the curtain to the competitors beyond the Big 3, but many wonder if the tournaments will lose their significance without Djokovic there.
Djovokic Has Held On To No. 1 Ranking
Djokovic did not play in either of these tournaments last year or the U.S. Open for the same reason.
It is impressive that he has been able to play well after long absences and once again seize the World No. 1 ranking.
Because the U.S. rules are expected to be relaxed in April, the good news is that Djokovic will be in New York in September to compete for the U.S. Open Grand Slam title.
Former Players Support Djokovic
Former U.S. players such as Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe have spoken out on Novak’s behalf.
Jimmy Connors applauds Djokovic for sticking with his convictions in spite of the adversity he has experienced.
John McEnroe believes it is “absurd” not to allow Djokovic in the country for these 2023 spring tournaments.
The Miami Open tournament director is former U.S. player James Blake, and he went to bat for Novak petitioning for a waiver for him.
Unless there is something else that happens in the next few days to overturn this decision, Djokovic will not be in the U.S. for the March swing of the 2023 tennis season.
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