Novak Djokovic’s Sunshine Double case ‘tricky’ – ‘I don’t know how they let him in and don’t let everyone in’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic gesturing

There are mixed feelings over Novak Djokovic’s decision to apply for an exemption to enter the United States in order to play at the Indian Wells Open and Miami Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner looked set to miss the Sunshine Double after United States President Joe Biden confirmed that the current coronavirus emergency regulations will only be lifted on May 11 – ruling him out of the Indian Wells Open, which gets underway on March 9, and the Miami Open (March 20).

Under those regulations unvaccinated foreign travellers are not allowed to enter the US and Djokovic has made clear that he is not vaccinated and he won’t change his mind and get inoculated against Covid-19.

However, his name remains on the Indian Wells entry list and on Friday his brother Djordje threw another spanner into the works as he revealed that the world No 1 is looking to “obtain special permission” to enter the country.

Djordje confirmed: “Novak has submitted all the required documentation and a request, and the directors of the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments have publicly said Novak is needed at those tournaments and that they want him to come.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic applies for exemption to enter US for Sunshine Double

Although many in the tennis community would be happy to see Djokovic compete at the big tournaments, it is a catch-22 situation.

Tennis presenter and analyst Prakash Amritraj is one of them as he raised questions about whether or not it would be fair to allow Djokovic into the US, but then say no to others who want to see their family members.

“It becomes a tricky situation at that point. You know, if you excuse the great tennis player, then a lot of the family members and so forth who’ve been trying to get in, it’s a tricky situation, where do you make that call?” he said on Tennis Channel.

He added: “But a lot of other countries have loosened up these restrictions and it seems it is coming off in May. So should they even be here right now?”

Djokovic also missed the Australian Open, Indian Wells Open, Miami Open and the US Open last year due to his unvaccinated status. However, he returned to Australia in January and went on to win a 10th title at Melbourne Park while he is also set to compete at the US Open later this year.

“If you just look at it from a tennis perspective, he’s sort of established himself as the best tennis player in the world,” Amritaj continued.

“So, for all of us, it’s a huge shame not to have him at two of the biggest events that we have.”

Paul Annacone, who coached the likes of Roger Federer Pete Sampras and Sloane Stephens, is also of the opinion that it wouldn’t “make sense” to allow Djokovic to enter the United States and not other people.

“As a tennis fan, I want him here,” Annacone, who works as a tennis commentator at Tennis Channel these days, said. “As someone who looks at the world realistically, I don’t know how they let him in and don’t let everyone in then. That just doesn’t make sense.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon crown under threat from US charge