Tennis: Focused Djokovic still waiting on US visa for Indian Wells

AFP , Thursday 2 Mar 2023

Novak Djokovic says he will learn his fate about being granted entry into the United States before the draw is revealed at Indian Wells, adding that he remains focused on his campaign in Dubai in the meantime.

Serbia s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Poland s Hubert Hurkacz during their quarter final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, March 1, 2023. AP

Djokovic, who continued his march towards a third title in as many tournaments this season with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the Dubai quarter-finals on Thursday, is waiting to hear if the US government will allow him to enter the country without being vaccinated.

The Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells begins on March 8 and Djokovic said a decision will be made one way or the other before the draw for the ATP tournament is conducted on Monday at 15:00 local time.

“Whatever the decision is before the draw, if I'm not allowed, I'm going to pull out, of course, before the draw,” assured Djokovic.

The world number one, seeking a sixth career title in the northern emirate, improved to 5-0 against Hurkacz, 15-0 for the season, and has extended his overall winning streak to 20 consecutive matches, dating back to last November’s ATP Finals.

“It was a challenging match as it always is against Hubert. One of the best guys on the tour definitely, fantastic personality, very lovable guy,” said Djokovic, who now awaits the winner of the late clash between Daniil Medvedev and Borna Coric.

The 35-year-old faced zero break points on his own serve and was an impressive 12/13 at the net, needing just 71 minutes to close out the victory.

“I think he’s got one of the best serves in the game,” Djokovic said of the 11th-ranked Hurkacz.

“In the second set, until that 11th game, I didn’t really have too many chances against his serve.

"Fortunately for me I also found the rhythm on my serve throughout the second set. I’m really glad with how I played under pressure.”

- 'Decent tennis' -

Earlier in the day, Alexander Zverev reached his first semi-final since tearing three ligaments in his right ankle during his clash with Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros last June.

The German seventh seed defeated fellow big-server, Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes, saving all six break points he faced during the encounter.

The 25-year-old Zverev was ranked number three in the world and was up a set on Nadal in their French Open semi-final last year when he suffered a horrific ankle injury.

“Last year during the French Open was the first time in my life where I went into matches, I went into the Alcaraz match, the Nadal match as well, and I thought 'I can win the French Open and I'm going to win the French Open',” stated Zverev, who spent seven months on the sidelines after sustaining the injury.

“Obviously I didn't. Not only did I not win, I basically broke everything that I can in my ankle. So it was a tough period.

“But after an injury like that, I'm happy where I'm standing right now. I'm getting back. I'm playing some decent tennis this week. Hopefully this will continue.”

In the Dubai semi-finals on Friday, Zverev will take on number two seed Andrey Rublev, who is trying to successfully defend one of his 12 ATP titles for the first time in his career this week.

Rublev claimed his first victory in three meetings with Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp with a 6-3, 7-6(3) result, a day after he saved five match points against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Rublev broke early for a 3-0 opening and that one-break cushion was enough for the Russian to take the opening set in 48 minutes.

Van de Zandschulp saved three match points to hold in game nine of the second and the Dutch world No.33 broke Rublev as he was serving for the match to level for 5-all.

Rublev redeemed himself in the tiebreak, converting his fourth match point with his ninth ace of the evening to advance.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: