A rival of both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal doesn’t appear overly fussed about their absence at this week’s Indian Wells Masters event. The prestigious tournament is key to boosting the ranking of tennis stars with 1,000 points available to the winner, but greats Djokovic and Nadal are both unable to compete – leaving the competition wide open.
Visitors to America are required to be vaccinated against Covid or are denied access to the country, a policy that is expected to be lifted on May 11. Djokovic had applied for a ‘special permit’ to enter America and play the ‘Sunshine Double’ this month – the Indian Wells tournament followed by the Miami Open.
However, the world No.1 withdrew from the tournament before the first round draw was made after having his request refused, according to Florida Senator Rick Scott. Fellow 22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal is also absent from Indian Wells while he recovers from the hip injury which hampered his performance during the Australian Open.
World No.10 Felix Auger-Aliassime has issued a blunt response to the tennis greats being absent from the Masters tournament. Ahead of his opening match against Pedro Martinez, the Canadian star said: “It’s not gonna change much. At the end of the day, there is a great field of players in the tournament that’s gonna go on and it’ll be a success.”
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With world No.1 Djokovic absent, last year’s US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz goes into the tournament as the top seed and could overtake his Serbian rival in the rankings and regain the number one spot. Australian Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas also has the chance to become world No.1 if Djokovic misses both the ‘Sunshine Double’ events.
Auger-Aliassime admitted that missing Djokovic and Nadal from the Masters events will take the gloss from victory in America. He added: “You want all the best players in the tournament. I think even me, as a competitor, like if I do win a tournament like this one, I wanna feel like there were the best of the best in the draw. Also, it’s not great for anybody that like Rafa and Novak are missing.”