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Djokovic withdraws from BNP Paribas Open, this time before the draw is made

Novak Djokovic is officially out of the upcoming BNP Paribas Open.

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated and still not allowed to enter the United States, withdrew from Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells on Sunday. It seemed like only a matter of time for the 35-year-old Serb, as the U.S. government recently announced that its policy for unvaccinated foreigners will not change until May. Djokovic should be good to go for the U.S. Open at the end of the summer, but he won’t be able to play in either Indian Wells or Miami. In 2022 he waited until after the Indian Wells draw had already been made to pull out, so he was replaced by a lucky loser; this time it’s the next player on the entry list–Nikoloz Basilashvili–who gets in since the draw won’t be announced until Wednesday.

The world No. 1 did issue an appeal for entry into the country, but it was denied.

“Unfortunately, it is something that is out of our hands,” his youngest brother, Djordje Djokovic, said in an interview with Serbian media outlet Tanjug in February. “Novak needs to get a special permission to enter, considering that the USA still doesn’t let unvaccinated foreigners into the country, which is unbelievable, considering that we have seen big sporting manifestations with unvaccinated athletes throughout the world.”

Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas had been hoping that Djokovic would be granted an exemption.

“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those (restrictions) a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami,” Haas commented earlier in the year. “I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully, we can have him there. I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.”

Djokovic is a five-time champion in Indian Wells but has not won it since 2016. He hasn’t played in the desert since 2019.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.