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Novak Djokovic given US Open hope amid Indian Wells ban over vaccine status

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC is set to miss the upcoming Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami because he is unvaccinated.

Novak Djokovic has been given a glimmer of hope to compete in this year’s US Open. The world No 2 was deported from Australia ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam last month and looks set to miss Indian Wells and Miami over his unvaccinated status. The US Open also looked off-limits for the Serb but a change to New York’s Covid mandate could offer him the chance to play.

Djokovic was kept out of the Australian Open after being deported from the country on the eve of the tournament with the Immigration Minister and Federal Court believing his presence could “excite anti-vax sentiment”.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion finally started his season last week in Dubai, losing in the quarter-finals.

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Ahead of his return to tennis, the world No 2 gave an in-depth interview to the BBC admitting he would miss tournaments like the French Open and Wimbledon if they required vaccination.

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“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said.

It is now not known exactly where or when Djokovic will next compete, as the Serb admitted he would be unable to go to Indian Wells and Miami with the United States requiring all travellers to be fully vaccinated.

Speaking in Dubai last week, the 34-year-old said: “As of today, no. I can’t go, can’t enter United States. As of today I’m not able to play. But let’s see what happens. I mean, maybe things change in the next few weeks.”

The 86-time title-winner also faces a ban from the first Masters of the clay-court swing in Monte Carlo, where he resides with his family.

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“He has to be in order. For the moment, as far as I know, he is not vaccinated. As soon as he is in good health with respect to government regulations, we will welcome him with open arms,” tournament director Zeljko Franulovic said earlier this month.

The US Open was another tournament that had appeared off-limits to the three-time champion in New York, thanks to the same rules that are keeping him out of America for Indian Wells and Miami.

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The city of New York has had a strict Covid mandate in place for several months, requiring restaurants and other indoor spaces to check everyone who enters is fully vaccinated.

The rule has already had an impact on sporting events, seeing the likes of Kyrie Irving being kept from playing home games for the Brooklyn Nets.

But the city’s Mayor Eric Adams announced on Sunday that the rules could be dropped in a week, with the final decision to come on Friday.

“So long as our indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also remove the vaccination requirements for Key2NYC — meaning indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues,” he said.

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The rule change would see Djokovic allowed to compete at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – the home of the US Open – and able to stay in accommodation while in New York.

His participation would ultimately depend on whether the United States lifts their requirement for those entering the country to be fully vaccinated but permitted Djokovic is able to enter the country by August, he will now have another Grand Slam guaranteed despite his vaccine status.

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