Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from Indian Wells and the Miami Open – the first two Masters Series events of the year – because of US coronavirus rules.
Recall that Djokovic gave an interview last month in which he said he was still not vaccinated against the coronavirus. That was after he was deported from Austriala prior to the Australian Open at the start of the year.
Regulations require any non-US citizen to have a Covid vaccination before entering the country.
The 34-year-old 20-time Grand Slam winner was included in the draw for both events, but has since posted on Twitter that he knew it was “unlikely” he could travel.
The Indian Wells draw will be less balanced following the late withdrawal of Djokovic, who was seeded second.
As the next player in line to be seeded outside the tournament’s top 32, last year’s semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov will move into Djokovic’s space in the draw. A lucky loser from qualifying will fill the Bulgarian’s spot in due course.
Djokovic missed the Australian Open in January, being deported from the country after its government cancelled his visa in a row over his vaccine status.
Former tennis world number one Novak Djokovic said that he is prepared to miss other big events in future.
He said: “The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else.
“I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
By missing the Australian Open, Djokovic was overtaken in the list of overall major titles by eventual winner Rafael Nadal, who secured a record 21st Grand Slam.
Djokovic’s first tournament in 2022 came in Dubai in February, where he was beaten by Czech Jiri Vesely in the quarter-finals. The defeat meant he conceded his world number one ranking to Russian Daniil Medvedev, who claimed his first major title at the US Open in September and is the top seed at Indian Wells.
He is likely to make his return to the tour at the Monte Carlo Masters in April.