Dubai, February 22: Novak Djokovic has said he cannot currently enter the United States, putting his participation in next month's Indian Wells Masters in doubt.
Djokovic won his first match back on the ATP Tour since missing the Australian Open on Monday, beating Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 32 at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The men's world number one had not played a competitive match since early December and was last month deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open.
That decision was a result of Djokovic opting not to join the majority of his tennis peers in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and amid controversy over how he handled getting the virus himself in December.
He showed no signs of rust as he eased to a 6-3 6-3 win over Musetti in just 74 minutes in his first match of 2022, hitting five aces, winning an impressive 71 per cent of his second serves (17 out of 24) and saving all seven break points he faced against his Italian opponent.
However, at a press conference following his victory, Djokovic admitted he is currently unable to enter the United States, and is therefore on course to miss March's prestigious Indian Wells Masters tournament.
"As of today, not. I can't go, I can't enter the United States," he said.
"As of today I'm not able to play. But let's see what happens. I mean, maybe things change in the next few weeks."
Djokovic has been included on the entry list for Indian Wells despite the tournament requiring all players are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Images of Djokovic do not appear in any of the tournament's build-up social media posts nor on the website's promotional announcement, while his entry-list inclusion was little more than a footnote – though did include him.
The statement read: "A power-packed line-up of ATP top-10 players will join [Rafael] Nadal in looking to put together a breakthrough performance in Tennis paradise.
"2021 US Open champion and 2022 Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev (world no. 2), 2021 ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev (world no. 3), and 2021 French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas (world no. 4) will each be in search of their maiden title in the desert.
"Reigning BNP Paribas Open champion Cameron Norrie (world no. 13) will look to replicate his extraordinary 2021 title run, in which he won his first Masters 1000 crown.
"World no. 1 and five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic is also on the tournament entry list."