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Novak Djokovic forced to pull out of Indian Wells over vaccination status

Novak Djokovic forced to pull out of Indian Wells over vaccination status
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic withdraws from the upcoming Indian Wells Masters due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Twenty-two-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Indian Wells Masters.

The Serbian, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, was hopeful of competing at the Indian Wells and Miami Open events after applying for special permission to participate.

Until April 10, passengers entering the United States must show proof of vaccination, and Djokovic claimed that he would pull out of the Indian Wells Masters - which starts on Monday - if he was not permitted to travel.

Tournament organisers have now confirmed Djokovic's withdrawal, saying in a tweet: "World No.1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvili moves into the field."

Djokovic is a five-time Indian Wells champion, winning titles in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, but he has now been absent from the last three editions of the tournament.

The 35-year-old, who was memorably deported from Australia prior to the 2022 Australian Open, also missed last year's US Open due to his vaccination stance, but he was allowed to travel Down Under for the 2023 Australian Open, where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic, who recently broke Steffi Graf's record for the most weeks as world number one, lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

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