Novak Djokovic’s coach claims star’s denied entry to US ‘affected’ him in loss to Daniil Medvedev

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Novak Djokovic’s coach has claimed that the tennis star’s denied entry into the United States for the Indian Wells mentally affected him ahead of his defeat to Daniil Medvedev in Dubai. 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was defeated in the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships by the World No. 6 on March 3, just two days before he was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open after being denied entry to the United States over vaccine rules.

The Serbian, who is one of the most high-profile athletes unvaccinated against the virus, applied to the US government last month for a waiver to play at ATP Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.

Current restrictions are due to end in April – leaving Djokovic free to play in this summer’s US Open – but he was not granted special treatment in his bid to enter the States early for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, has now insisted that ongoing saga over Djokovic’s entry into the US weighed on the player throughout last week’s tournament, ultimately resulting in his defeat to eventual champion Medvedev in Dubai. 

Tennis World No. 1 Novak Djokovic

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic (left)

Novak Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic claimed the star’s denied entry to US affected him

Champion Daniil Medvedev beat Djokovic in the semi-final of the Dubai Tennis Championships

Champion Daniil Medvedev beat Djokovic in the semi-final of the Dubai Tennis Championships

Ivanisevic, who has been coaching Djokovic since July 2019, revealed that the 2023 Australian Open winner was already aware that he wouldn’t be afforded special treatment from the States ahead of his semi-final clash against Medvedev. 

‘Against Medvedev, I felt like he wasn’t mentally present the way he should have been,’ Ivanisevic told Tennis Majors. 

‘Namely, I think he was affected by everything that was going on regarding the exemption to come to the United States. 

‘He gave away a lot of points in that match. When playing against Medvedev, you need to be patient and ready to play for 300 days if that’s what it takes, and Novak was impatient.’ 

Djokovic faces a similar fate as he did for Indian Wells for the upcoming Miami Open, which starts on March 22. 

He is still hopeful to get an exemption for the tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida and even has the backing of State Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Governor is determined to get Djokovic in his state to play the Miami Open and has written President Biden a letter urging him to let the tennis star into the United States. 

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As he continued to find ways skirting ‘ancient’ vaccine mandates for foreign visitors, DeSantis even joked that he may need a boat from the Bahamas to south Florida. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is demanding that President Joe Biden 'reconsider' his denial for Djokovic to gain entry into the country for the Miami Open because he does not have the Covid-19 vaccination

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is demanding that President Joe Biden ‘reconsider’ his denial for Djokovic to gain entry into the country for the Miami Open because he does not have the Covid-19 vaccination

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DeSantis' two page letter to Biden, obtained by DailyMail.com before it was released publicly, shows the Florida governor demanding the president stop enforcing 'a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests'

DeSantis’ two page letter to Biden, obtained by DailyMail.com before it was released publicly, shows the Florida governor demanding the president stop enforcing ‘a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests’

While DeSantis persists, Djokovic and his team also still haven’t given up hope of getting into the country either. 

However, Ivanisevic claimed that it wouldn’t be ‘the end of the world’ if Djokovic is unable to play in Miami as it might not stand him in good stead for the upcoming clay-court season back in Europe.  

‘We haven’t given up,’ Ivanisevic insisted. ‘He wants to play and I would love it if they allow him – it would be great both for him and for tennis. 

‘If not, it’s not the end of the world, he didn’t play last year as well. The most important thing is that we find out soon, so that we can make a plan.

‘Although, in terms of preparing for the European clay court season, I’m not sure playing in Miami is the best solution. 

‘It depends on Novak – in the past he has triumphed in Monte Carlo having played in Indian Wells and Miami. If he is mentally ready and in his fighter mode, like he was in Australia, then anything is possible.’

The US is the only country on the ATP tour for which players must be vaccinated – though that rule is set to be lifted on May 11 by President Joe Biden’s office – three months before the Grand Slam US Open.

The Serbian star was denied entry to the US Open last year - an event he has won three times

The Serbian star was denied entry to the US Open last year – an event he has won three times

Ivanisevic insisted that Djokovic, who has triumphed at the US Open three times in dazzling career, still has a desire to play Stateside this year.

‘He has a strong desire to play in the US this year, and the good thing is that it seems that the rule preventing him from entering will be abandoned in May,’ Ivanisevic said. 

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‘If that will be the case, Novak should be able to play the more important part of the year in the States: the US Open and the tournaments before New York.’

DeSantis gave Biden a deadline of March 10 to confirm that Djokovic cannot enter the US by boat. 

DeSantis’ letter sent on Monday, obtained by DailyMail.com, came the same day he delivered his State of the State address and increases his national activity as he inches closer to a presidential announcement. 

‘The denial is unfair, unscientific and unacceptable,’ DeSantis wrote in his letter. ‘I urge you to reconsider.’

The letter comes as nearly all COVID-19 restrictions in the U.S. have been lifted, and the national emergency declaration is set to come to an end in May. 

Poll

SHOULD NOVAK DJOKOVIC BE ALLOWED ENTRY TO THE US FOR THE MIAMI OPEN?

  • Yes – rules are ‘ancient’ 0 votes
  • No – he shouldn’t get special treatment 0 votes

‘It’s time to put pandemic politics aside and give the American people what they want – let him play,’ DeSantis insisted. 

‘The only thing keeping Mr. Djokovic from participating in this tournament is your administration’s continued enforcement of a misguided, unscientific, and out-of-date COVID-19 vaccination requirement for foreign guests seeking to visit our great country,’ the Florida governor continues tearing into Biden and the remnants of pandemic-era policies.

The letter is further sign that DeSantis is preparing to take on Biden should they go head-to-head in a general election battle in 2024.

Djokovic missed the flagship US Open and several other competitions in the US last year after the Centre for Disease Control did not ease its regulations. Indian Wells and Miami organizers have urged the government to let him in to the country.

The Serbian did not withdraw from last year’s Indian Wells entry list until after the draw was made, which was controversial given his decision meant the first alternate had to go through qualifying rather than taking his spot, and denied another the opportunity to take the qualifying place. 

But this year, he withdrew before the draw took place and his absence opens the door for Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz to go top of the world rankings, if he wins the tournament.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner pulled out of the Indian Wells Open tournament this week

The 22-time Grand Slam winner pulled out of the Indian Wells Open tournament this week

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Djokovic's absence in Indian Wells opens the door for Carlos Alcaraz to claim the No. 1 spot

Djokovic’s absence in Indian Wells opens the door for Carlos Alcaraz to claim the No. 1 spot

Djokovic’s absence from the popular tournament in Indian Wells has sparked outrage with one calling the decision to keep out one of the best tennis players of all time ‘unacceptable’ and others left puzzled over the policy. 

American comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher did not hold back in his criticism of his nation’s Covid rules.

‘He’s unvaccinated but he’s had Covid twice, natural immunity. Again something we always used to understand was like better than the actual vaccine. Somehow that got to be reversed,’ he said in a panel discussion.

‘The head of the Miami tournament, I read a quote and he’s trying to get Djokovic in. He said: “There doesn’t appear to be any imminent danger.”

‘Imminent danger? Of a man playing tennis? Of a man who’s had it twice? In a sport where you’re alone, in the middle of a stadium where you’re outside in a country where everyone’s already had it.

‘No imminent danger. This country is stuck on stupid, it just is.’ 

Djokovic’s bid to enter the US early had even been backed by the US Open and the United States Tennis Association, who had implored the government to make an exception for the tennis great. 

A post from the US Open Tennis Twitter account said: ‘Novak Djokovic is one the greatest champions our sport has ever seen.

Djokovic's bid for special dispensation was backed by both the US Open (above) and the USTA

Djokovic’s bid for special dispensation was backed by both the US Open (above) and the USTA

His denied entry sparked backlash from fans and public figures, including Senator Blackburn

His denied entry sparked backlash from fans and public figures, including Senator Blackburn

‘The USTA and US Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami.’

US Senator Marsha Blackburn said on Twitter: ‘Novak Djokovic has been reportedly denied entry into the US since he is unvaccinated. Didn’t Joe Biden say the pandemic was over?’

Djokovic’s vaccination status led to him missing both the Australian Open – with him being deported from the country – and US Open last year.

With vaccination against Covid-19 no longer required to enter Australia, he then successfully challenged a three-year ban on applying for a visa and was able to compete in January’s Australian Open, going on to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

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