Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic says he is out of Indian Wells, Miami

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Novak Djokovic said that he will not be able to compete at the hard-court tennis tournaments in Indian Wells, California, or Miami because he is unvaccinated and can’t travel to the United States.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion tweeted that the Centers for Disease Control “confirmed the regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the U.S.”

Djokovic, who recently dropped to No. 2 in the ATP rankings, has played in only one tournament so far in 2022 because he has not received any shots to protect against COVID-19. He was deported from Australia in January and was not allowed to try to defend his title at Melbourne Park.

Rafael Nadal wound up winning the Australian Open for his 21st major trophy, breaking a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most claimed by a man in the history of tennis.

Djokovic is a 34-year-old from Serbia who said in April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, that he was opposed to needing to be vaccinated to travel. In June of that year, with professional tennis on hiatus, he organized a series of exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia with no rules requiring social distancing or masking – a tour that was called off after some players, including Djokovic, got COVID-19.

His name was put in the draw for the BNP Paribas Open in California on Tuesday, even though his status was up in the air because the U.S. has been requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated to enter the country. In addition, the tournament had previously announced that everyone on-site at Indian Wells would need to be fully inoculated.

“While I was automatically listed in the (at)BNPPARIBASOPEN and (at)MiamiOpen draw,” Djokovic wrote Wednesday, “I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel.”

Indian Wells is underway this week; the Miami Open starts on March 21.

“We understood from the beginning that Novak’s participation at the Miami Open was determinant on his entry into the United States, which we knew would be a long shot,” said James Blake, the tournament director in Miami. “We have an incredibly deep and talented player field, and look forward to hosting a great event.”

Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, said the organization would have no comment other than to note that the event follows government guidelines. The American Grand Slam tournament is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29.

It has been a turbulent start to 2022 for Djokovic, who went through detention and a court case during an 11-day saga in Australia before he was sent home. During the legal back-and-forth, Djokovic said he wasn’t vaccinated and thought he should get a medical exemption to rules requiring the shots because, he said, he tested positive for COVID-19 again in December. He also said he attended an in-person interview with a reporter despite having that result.

In February, Djokovic said in an interview that he would not get vaccinated, even if he needs to be in order to participate in events such as the French Open or Wimbledon.

On the last day of last month, Djokovic dropped out of the No. 1 ranking for the first time in two years, sliding to No. 2 behind Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic’s 361 total weeks atop the ATP are a record, as are his seven times finishing a season at No. 1.

And on March 1, Djokovic announced that he and coach Marian Vajda were splitting up after 15 years together.

In his lone tournament of the year, Djokovic lost to Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

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LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.