Tennis 2023: Novak Djokovic officially suspended from Miami Open
Novak Djokovic has been officially suspended from the Miami Open after the efforts of the organizers of the event went unheeded.
But Djokovic could lose his top spot if Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz continues his stunning streak at Indian Wells against 11th-placed Yannick Sinner in the semi-finals of the tournament.
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If Alcaraz wins the title, dubbed the Fifth Major in Indian Wells, he will reclaim his world number one spot. 1 mantle from Djokovic although he will have to win in Miami to keep it as he is the defending champion with 1000 ranking points.
There is nothing Djokovic can do to maintain his position after being banned from the US and officially removed from the list of contenders for a seat in Miami.
The ban stems from Djokovic’s refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, a stance he has held throughout the pandemic that cost him the opportunity to play at both the Australian Open and the US Open in 2022.
Djokovic has filed for a waiver from the US government, especially with restrictions set to end in May.
According to reports, his request is based on a claim that he contracted the virus twice and applied for exemption from the disease on that basis.
The only good news for Djokovic is that he will likely be free to compete in the 2023 US Open starting August 28.
The United States still does not allow unvaccinated international travelers to enter the country, and the Transportation Security Administration recently said the policy would not change until at least mid-April.
Last month, the White House announced that the policy could not be lifted until May 11th.
Miami tournament director James Blake said he had done everything he could but failed to influence the government.
“We’re one of the premier tournaments in the world and we’d love to have the best players that can play,” Blake told the Tennis Channel.
“We did everything we could. We tried to talk to the government, but it’s out of our hands. We tried and he couldn’t play.
“The same result as in Indian Wells, where I know Tommy Haas[Tournament Director of Indian Wells]did his best.
“We tried to get Novak Djokovic expelled, but it didn’t happen.
“We would love to have him and he is our greatest champion, he has won here six times. Unfortunately, this is much higher than my salary.”
This came after Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the Biden administration to grant the 22-time Grand Slam champion a waiver.
Anticipated presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even offered to smuggle the Serbian superstar into the country.
“I would arrange a boat for him from the Bahamas. I would do it one hundred percent,” DeSantis said at a press conference.
“I think his people are looking at it and I’m not sure that’s how they want to come into the country, which I understand. I think it would be a great moment, but still, you know.”
The US position was criticized by experts and tennis starsincluding American political comedian Bill Maher.
Maher said on HBO’s The Real Tim with Bill Maher, “Immediate danger? About a man playing tennis? About the man who had it twice?
“He stands alone. A sport where you stand alone in the middle of a stadium, outside, in a country where everyone has already had it. No immediate danger? This country is stuck on stupid things, that’s how it is.”
Djokovic vaccination status saw him being deported from Australia shortly before the 2022 Australian Open. After winning Wimbledon he also missed the US Open last year due to travel restrictions.
He returned to Australia in January. winning the 2023 Australian Open with a record 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
Originally published as ‘Not in our hands’: Novak Djokovic officially banned from Miami Open