1 of 6 | Novak Djokovic of Serbia returned to the court for the first time since his withdrawal from the 2022 Australian Open for a first-round match in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships on Monday in Dubai. Photo by Ali Haider/EPA-EFE
Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Novak Djokovic , listed on the entry list for March's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., can't attend the tennis tournament because he "can't enter the United States" due to his unvaccinated status, he announced.
Djokovic spoke about the tournament when he met with reporters at a news conference Monday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. The top-ranked Serbian beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.
"As of today, I can't go, I can't enter the United States," Djokovic told reporters, when asked about his participation in the BNP Paribas Open. "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."
The 20-time Grand Slam men's singles title holder was forced to pull out of the Australian Open and deported from the country last month because of his unvaccinated status.
The ATP Tour does not require players to be vaccinated, but foreign visitors are required to be vaccinated to enter the United States. U.S. citizens, other permanent residents and people who travel on immigration visas are not required to be vaccinated to enter the United States.
If those requirements don't change, Djokovic could miss additional U.S. tournaments, including the 2022 U.S. Open. He told the BBC earlier this month that he'll opt out of Grand Slam tournaments if he is required to be vaccinated.
Djokovic told reporters Monday that he resumed tennis training 10 days after he was deported from Australia. He worked out in Belgrade, Serbia, to prepare for his trip to Dubai.
"I'm excited to again be on the [ATP] Tour," Djokovic said. "That's all I'm feeling at the moment. Of course there were lots of emotions after I came back from Australia.
"I needed a little bit of time to reflect and just mentally rest, and then once I was refreshed, I was really looking forward to playing tennis and to competing."
The BNP Paribas Open is the next tournament on the ATP calendar. It runs from March 10 to 20 in Indian Wells. The Miami Open follows from March 23 to April 3 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
April's ATP Tour schedule features tournaments in the United States, Morocco, Monaco, Spain, Serbia, Germany and Portugal. The 2022 French Open is the next major tournament on the schedule. The clay court Grand Slam runs from May 22 to April 5 in Paris.
"I just have to follow the rules," Djokovic said. "Whatever tournament I'm able to play, I will be trying to get to that country and play the tournament. Obviously, I'm not intending to play the full schedule."
BNP Paribas Open officials announced Djokovic's presence on the tournament entry list Feb. 9. They did not immediately respond when asked Tuesday about Djokovic's participation.
Novak Djokovic looks up and smiles after a long point while playing in the U.S. Open finals against Roger Federer in New York City on September 9, 2007. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo