HomeSportsTennisNovak Djokovic and how vaccine status led to Indian Wells withdrawal

Novak Djokovic and how vaccine status led to Indian Wells withdrawal


Novak Djokovic will miss another major tennis tournament after withdrawing from Indian Wells.

Djokovic, who won a 22nd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January, has been denied a Covid-19 vaccine waiver to enter the United States, and will therefore be unable to compete in California.

The 35-year-old is one of the highest profile athletes who has opted not to have the coronavirus vaccine.

His decision has forced Djokovic to be absent from a number of tournaments over the last year and a half.

Here’s a timeline of the tennis player’s vaccine saga and the biggest events he has missed:

5 January 2022: Djokovic’s visa to enter Australia cancelled; player detained

Victorian state rules require all players at the Australian Open to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or be granted a medical exemption. Djokovic, who states he contracted the virus in December, is initially granted an exemption, but this is later cancelled after he is found to have including incorrect information on his application form.

16 January 2022: Djokovic appeal fails and three-time defending champion misses Australian Open

After Australian minister Alex Hawke cancels his visa, Djokovic asks for a judicial review. His case is dismissed by three Australian Federal Court judges; Djokovic leaves Ausstralia for Dubai and misses the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal wins the tournament in Melbourne in his absence.

February 2022: Djokovic defends his decision not to have the vaccine

Confirming that he is unvaccinated, Djokovic gives an interview to the BBC in which he stresses that his decision not to have the jab was a personal choice, revealing that his deportation from Australia took a “major toll”. The Serbian confirms he is willing to miss other tournaments rather than have the vaccine.

March 2022: Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells and the Miami Open

As the United States forbids unvaccinated foreign travellers, Djokovic withdraws from both Indian Wells and the Miami Open. He returns to action in April as the clay court season begins

May 2022: Djokovic competes at French Open

Djokovic makes his first Grand Slam appearance of 2022 at Roland-Garros. He reaches the quarter-finals, but loses to rival Nadal to end his title defence. The Spaniard goes on to secure his 22nd major crown.

July 2022: Djokovic wins Wimbledon

With Russian and Belarusian players absent, Djokovic wins his 21st Grand Slam title, beating Nick Kyrgios in the final. He moves clear of Roger Federer on the all-time list of men’s major singles winners and continues a run of four consecutive grass Grand Slam titles (Wimbledon was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic).

August 2022: Djokovic withdraws from the US Open

As the United States’ immigration rules bar unvaccinated non-US citizens from entering, the world number one is unable to compete in New York. Young star Carlos Alcaraz takes victory at Flushing Meadows.

November 2022: Djokovic claims ATP Finals victory

Despite being seeded seventh, an undefeated Djokovic cruises to victory at the ATP Finals in Turin, dropping only a single set. He becomes the oldest champion in history.

January 2023: Djokovic returns to Australian Open and draws level with Nadal

Australia overturned their requirement for visitors to be vaccinated during 2022, allowing Djokovic to return to competition in Melbourne. He loses only one set on his way to Australian Open number ten and major number 22, matching Nadal’s tally with a straight-sets final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

March 2023: Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells

Having requested a waiver to allow him to enter the United States, Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells in a hint that his application has again failed. The US ban on entry by unvaccinated foreigners is expected to be lifted when the government ends its Covid-19 emergency declarations on 11 May.

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