New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) World no 1 Novak Djokovic is hopeful of returning to ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami as the Serbian great has asked American authorities for special permission to enter the United States despite being unvaccinated against the coronavirus.
Unvaccinated air travellers are still prohibited from entering the States until the middle of May. The US vaccine requirement for foreign is not expected to be lifted before the main draw begins at Indian Wells and the Miami Open later in the month.
Indian Wells begins on March 6 ahead of the ATP event in Miami on March 19, and Djokovic is eager to continue his winning momentum after claiming his tenth Australian Open title last month.
Speaking at a press conference in Belgrade as quoted by Eurosport, Djokovic said: “Everything is in process and I’m really thankful to Indian Wells and Miami for their support, publicly, and they would like me to be able to play.
“I’m really thankful for that because I have a big desire to play because I haven’t played there for several years so I’m looking forward to hopefully a positive decision coming sometime soon. It’s not in my hands so that’s all I can say.”
The 35-year-old missed last year’s Australian Open as he was deported from the country over his vaccine status. The Serb returned to the tournament in January after Australia lifted its strict vaccine mandate to win his 22nd Grand Slam title, tying the record with Rafael Nadal.
The 22-time major winner is now focusing on the ATP tour event in Dubai, which will be his first appearance on court since his record 10th Australian Open victory last month that took the Serbian back to the top of the ATP rankings.
Djokovic, who has already broken Roger Federer’s record of 310 weeks as men’s world no.1, and looking to surpass Steffi Graf, when he enters 378 weeks at the top on Monday.
“Steffi Graf is one of the biggest legends of our sport in both men’s and women’s tennis. She is somebody that I truly admire and respect,” he said.
“Of course, it is very flattering that I am able to equal her record and I have a possibility to break the record. Being number one in the world and winning Wimbledon was a dream. When I achieved that dream in 2011, I had to dream new dreams and set new goals.
“I’m very proud of it and I never take the success as my own individual success. I always try to mention my family, my team, it is so key for me to everything that I do in life.”