Novak Djokovic is still hoping to play the Miami Open after reportedly having his vaccine waiver request denied by Homeland Security. The world No 1 was forced to pull out of Indian Wells but hasn’t “given up” on the second tournament in the ‘sunshine double’, according to his coach.
The Indian Wells Masters is officially underway but there are some notable names missing from the main draw this year, including world No 1 Djokovic. The Serb pulled out of the tournament on Monday, just days after Florida Senator Rick Scott claimed that Homeland Security had denied Djokovic’s vaccine waiver request.
Other Florida politicians are still lobbying for Djokovic to be allowed into the country in time for the Miami Open, which gets underway on March 19. And the man himself also appears to be holding out hope that he can still make it to America this month, according to his coach Goran Ivanisevic.
“We haven’t given up (on Miami),” the Croat told Tennis Majors. “He wants to play and I would love it if they allow him – it would be great both for him and for tennis.”
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But the retired former world No 2 said it wouldn’t be a catastrophe if Djokovic couldn’t play in Miami as he was also left unable to compete last year and will not lose any ranking points by being denied access. “If not, it’s not the end of the world, he didn’t play last year as well. The most important thing is that we find out soon, so that we can make a plan,” he added.
Djokovic is intending to play the Monte Carlo Masters in April no matter what happens, and Ivanisevic confessed that the world No 1 could prepare for the clay swing better without an appearance in Miami. “In terms of preparing for the European clay-court season, I’m not sure playing in Miami is the best solution,” the 2001 Wimbledon champion explained.
But Djokovic’s coach wouldn’t be surprised if his charge did manage to play in Miami and backed it up with a good run to start the clay season. Ivanisevic noted: “It depends on Novak – in the past he has triumphed in Monte Carlo having played in Indian Wells and Miami. If he is mentally ready and in his fighter mode, like he was in Australia, then anything is possible.”
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For now, the world No 1 is expected to miss Miami unless Biden’s government make a U-turn on their decision to deny Djokovic’s request to enter the country unvaccinated. Foreign nationals visiting America still require the vaccine until May 11 when all Covid emergency measures are set to be dropped, but the President is still facing pressure.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has written an open letter to Biden urging him to allow the Serbian to play in Miami. In the letter, DeSantis accused Biden of “pedantic politics” that was going against the will of American tennis fans. “The denial is unfair, unscientific, and unacceptable,” he added.
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