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10 Feb, 2022 11:06

Djokovic registered for ‘vaxxed-only’ US event

The tennis world number one is listed to play at Indian Wells in California next month
Djokovic registered for ‘vaxxed-only’ US event

Novak Djokovic has been entered for the ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells, California, next month. Event organizers have said players and fans will be required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in January when attempting to defend his Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

The unvaccinated Serbian star had received a medical exemption that he thought would be enough to grant participation in the competition.

However, he became embroiled in a visa and vaccine row that resulted in him being sidelined as generational rival Rafael Nadal become the sport's all-time most successful male player with 21 Grand Slam wins by beating Daniil Medvedev in the final at Melbourne Park.

On Wednesday, Djokovic's name appeared on a player entry list for Indian Wells, which runs from March 7 to 20.

The tournament has its own full vaccination rules and says that protocol for men's players such as 20-Grand Slam king Djokovic will be decided by governing body ATP in line with US restrictions.

"With health and safety as the tournament’s top priority, the BNP Paribas Open will require valid proof of full vaccination to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the tournament," read a statement.

"The guidelines for the players are governed by the protocols established by their respective governing bodies, the WTA and ATP, as well as any restrictions established by the United States of America in regard to the vaccination status of international travelers entering the country."

"World No.1 and 5-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic is also on the entry list," it added elsewhere.

At present, all non-US citizens and non-US immigrants must be vaccinated to enter the US by plane with only "limited exceptions" applying.

Djokovic's Australian debacle took in two visa cancellations, two court appeals, and five nights at a detention hotel before he flew home to Serbia. 

Djokovic had initially been granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia and Victoria state officials based on his recovery from a Covid infection in December. 

Djokovic biographer Daniel Muksch has claimed that seeing Nadal pass him on 21 Grand Slams in Australia lit a fire under the Serb which might press him to get his jabs and try and prevent Nadal from getting further in front at the French Open later this year, where there are also questions over potential vaccine mandates for players. 

"From what I have heard from those around him, I think he is getting vaccinated," Muksch reportedly said on Servus TV in Austria.

"Maybe the final in Melbourne also contributed to that. Rafael Nadal’s 21 is driving him, no question."

With his world number one spot under threat from Medvedev, Djokovic is expected to return to action at a Dubai ATP event from February 21 to 26, where Nadal will also be present.