John McEnroe has expressed his frustration with Novak Djokovic’s Indian Wells debacle in a recent interview as he claims it would be “absurd” if the world No. 1 was not allowed into the country to compete. The Americans’ words come as Djokovic continues to wait for a response after applying for a special permit to enter the unvaccinated country, with the US government set to lift all Covid restrictions in May.
Djokovic’s fate in Indian Wells remains uncertain as the Serb waits to find out if the US government will allow him into the country to play the first two Masters 1000 tournaments of the season next month. His brother Djorje recently revealed that Djokovic had applied for a “special permit” to enter the country and at a news conference on Wednesday, the 35-year-old confirmed he was still waiting for a response.
With the 22-time tournament winner looking set to currently miss Indian Wells and Miami, retired pro John McEnroe has come out to vigorously defend the Serb while criticizing the current restrictions in the United States. “It would be ridiculous if he couldn’t play Indian Wells, Miami or any other tournament in the United States,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion told Forbes.
McEnroe also triggered Djokovic’s ban last year, when he kicked out the world No. 1 from Australia on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open after twice having his visa revoked. “It’s ridiculous that they kicked him out of Australia last year,” he added.
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“I had my vaccinations, and I respect that he chose not to. I would have, but that’s a whole other issue…” The 64-year-old also referred to last year’s US Open which also saw Djokovic unable to compete. With unvaccinated travelers banned from entering America – something that wasn’t the norm in 2021 when the Serb managed to play and reach the final.
McEnroe continued, “He played [the US Open] In 2021 and then he wasn’t allowed to play in 2022, someone pointed that out to me. And now he’s still not allowed to play, I mean, it’s ridiculous.” The American’s younger brother and fellow former pro Patrick also shared his hopes of seeing Djokovic at Indian Wells and Miami next month.
“I hope he gets an exemption,” he said. “I hope he can get into the country to play. I mean, I’m not a doctor or an expert, but we seem to be through most of the pandemic, knocking on wood.” With Covid restrictions ending in America on May 11, Djokovic should be all set to play the US Open at the end of the summer. But the former world No. 3 doubles player wanted to see the recent Australian Open champion allowed to compete sooner.
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“He can go to any other country to play at this stage and my understanding is that he is the boss [Biden] I announce that many of these regulations will be withdrawn I think in May. McEnroe’s younger brother added, whether or not Novak was able to get the waiver before that is still unknown.
Maybe we’ll get more information [from Djokovic’s press conference]but certainly for the benefit of sports, for tennis, I think everyone would like to see him be able to play the tournaments that he wants to play.”
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