Novak Djokovic is set to appear at next month's Monte Carlo Masters after his vaccination status left him unable to compete at Indian Wells.

The world number two has been forced to sit out the first Masters event of the year after not meeting the vaccination requirements to enter the United States, having been deported from Australia ahead of January's Australian Open for similar reasons.

Now, a post on the 20-time grand slam champion's official website suggests he will appear on the clay surface in Monaco, where the 34-year-old resides.

Monaco currently allows those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months to enter the city-state, with Djokovic claiming to have suffered from the virus in December.

"Novak will open his 2022 clay court season in Monte-Carlo, where he won the Masters 1000 title twice, in 2013 and 2015," the post reads.

The tournament now looks set to be the second to feature Djokovic in 2022 after he lost at the quarter-finals stage of last month's Dubai Tennis Championships.

The Monte Carlo Masters begins on April 10, lasting until April 17, and Djokovic will be looking to make amends after exiting last year's tournament to Dan Evans in the last 16.

Rafael Nadal, who overtook Djokovic for the most men's singles grand slam titles with his January triumph in Australia, holds the record for the most successes in Monaco, winning the tournament on 11 occasions.

 

Meanwhile, with France having loosened its travel restrictions for unvaccinated people this month, Djokovic will now hope to use the Monaco outing as preparation for a first grand slam appearance of the year at Roland Garros.

The Serbian now looks increasingly likely to be permitted to defend his 2021 French Open title in May after travel restrictions had originally cast doubt on his participation.

Alex Hales has withdrawn from the Indian Premier League due to bubble fatigue.

The English batter had been due to play for Kolkata Knight Riders in a tournament that starts on March 26.

Hales on Friday revealed he will not travel to India due to the strains of spending so much time in bio-secure environments due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

He tweeted: "I am sad to announce that I have made the extremely difficult decision to withdraw from the forthcoming IPL.

"Having spent the last four months away from home in restrictive bio bubbles and having tested positive for COVID myself in Australia, I don't feel as though I can commit myself to another extended period within a secure environment.

"It wouldn't be fair on the team or myself if I wasn't able to perform to the level expected of me as a result of ongoing bubble fatigue.

"I am truly gutted to have to turn down one of the best opportunities of my career due to the toll that the last two years of bubble life has taken on my mental well-being.

"I'll now take some time to rest and recharge ahead of the summer."

Novak Djokovic has confirmed he cannot compete at Indian Wells due to not being allowed to enter the United States.

The former world number one was revealed as an automatic qualifier for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last month, though uncertainty surrounded his possible participation.

Djokovic was deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open in January due to not meeting the country's COVID-19 vaccination requirements, with the Serbian choosing not to be jabbed.

After testing positive for – and recovering from – coronavirus the previous month, it was at one stage thought Djokovic might have been allowed entry to Australia on the grounds of having post-virus antibodies.

But he was ultimately ordered to leave the country and it quickly became clear the 34-year-old was likely to run into similar problems down the line.

Djokovic was included in the draw for the upcoming BNP Paribas Open, setting up a second-round clash with David Goffin or Jordan Thompson, and organisers said on Wednesday that talks were ongoing as they looked to determine the superstar's eligibility.

But America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states all non-US citizens travelling to the country "must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine", with "only limited exceptions" applying.

Unsurprisingly, Djokovic has not been granted entry.

Confirming his situation, Djokovic tweeted: "While I was automatically listed in BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open draw, I knew it would be unlikely I'd be able to travel.

"The CDC has confirmed that regulations won't be changing so I won't be able to play in the US. Good luck to those playing in these great tournaments."

Djokovic has lost his place atop the ATP rankings to Daniil Medvedev and his inability to feature at the Australian Open meant Rafael Nadal set a new record for the most grand slam men's singles titles, as the Spaniard claimed his 21st success.

It is unclear whether Djokovic will be able to add to his 20 at Wimbledon or Roland Garros, while it seems he will also miss the US Open unless the CDC changes its regulations in the meantime.

Novak Djokovic is at the centre of another saga after being included in the draw for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

The former world number one was handed a second-round clash against either David Goffin or Jordan Thompson.

All 32 seeds receive a first-round bye, so although the men's singles begins on Thursday at the California desert event, Djokovic is not due to be in action until the weekend.

However, it remains to be seen whether he is allowed into the United States, given he has declared he has not received any vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Tournament organisers admit they do not know whether Djokovic will play.

They said in a statement on the event's official Twitter feed: "Novak Djokovic is on the tournament entry list, and therefore is placed into the draw.

"We are currently in communication with his team; however, it has not been determined if he will participate in the event by getting CDC approval to enter the country.

"We will provide updates in the future as we learn more."

The CDC is America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which lays down requirements for non-US international citizens travelling to the United States.

Within its rules, it is stated that all non-US citizens travelling to the US "must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine", adding that "only limited exceptions apply".

Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in December, and at one stage it appeared that recovering from that, and having post-virus antibodies, would be enough to allow him to travel to Melbourne and play in the Australian Open.

That proved not to be the case, with Djokovic twice detained after arriving in Australia before being deported.

He has since made his return to tennis at the Dubai Tennis Championships, where he surprisingly lost in the quarter-finals to Jiri Vesely.

The 34-year-old Serbian has been overtaken for the rankings top spot by Daniil Medvedev, the Russian who will be playing under a neutral flag while his country's military invasion of Ukraine continues. Medvedev will begin against Alexei Popyrin or a qualifier at Indian Wells.

Ireland will be without Iain Henderson for their home clash with Italy in the Six Nations after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Andy Farrell's side sit third in the table after a 29-7 triumph over Wales preceded a 30-24 loss to leaders France in the second round.

Ireland host winless Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday, but they will not have second rower Henderson to call upon after confirming the 30-year-old has contracted the virus.

Another spell on the sidelines will frustrate the Ulster captain, given he only returned from injury off the bench in the loss against France.

Henderson, who captained his country for the first time in February 2021, will now serve a period of self-isolation at home and will likely return for meetings with England and Scotland in March.

Ireland confirmed there were no other positive results within the squad and the group will continue to complete routine tests across the week.

Farrell will still have Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Kieran Treadwell and Ryan Baird as second-row options and has not yet called up a replacement for Henderson.

World number one Novak Djokovic has praised Rafael Nadal for his "incredible" triumph by winning last month's Australian Open after his own deportation forced him to miss the event.

Nadal moved beyond Djokovic with his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne with a five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic was unable to compete in Melbourne due to his vaccination status, deported amid an ugly saga after arriving in Melbourne expecting to be permitted to play.

The Serbian, who returned to the ATP Tour on Monday with a 6-3 6-3 win over Lorenzo Musetti at the Dubai Tennis Championships, was gracious in praising Nadal, who had a nagging foot injury dog him late last year.

"I think it was four, five months ago that he was on the crutches and now he's winning a slam. It's incredible," Djokovic told reporters after beating Musetti.

"I've got tons of respect for him. I don't want to take anything away from his victory, me not participating in the tournament regardless."

The Serbian was pressed on missing the Australian Open and added: "Of course, it wasn't a pleasant feeling for me leaving the country the way I did and watching the tournament from far away."

Djokovic will play either Karen Khachanov or Alex de Minaur in the second round in Dubai, while Nadal is competing at the Mexican Open, with a match against Denis Kudla on Tuesday.

World number one Novak Djokovic has praised Rafael Nadal for his "incredible" triumph by winning last month's Australian Open after his own deportation forced him to miss the event.

Nadal moved beyond Djokovic with his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne with a five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic was unable to compete in Melbourne due to his vaccination status, deported amid an ugly saga after arriving in Melbourne expecting to be permitted to play.

The Serbian, who returned to the ATP Tour on Monday with a 6-3 6-3 win over Lorenzo Musetti at the Dubai Tennis Championships, was gracious in praising Nadal, who had a nagging foot injury dog him late last year.

"I think it was four, five months ago that he was on the crutches and now he's winning a slam. It's incredible," Djokovic told reporters after beating Musetti.

"I've got tons of respect for him. I don't want to take anything away from his victory, me not participating in the tournament regardless."

The Serbian was pressed on missing the Australian Open and added: "Of course, it wasn't a pleasant feeling for me leaving the country the way I did and watching the tournament from far away."

Djokovic will play either Karen Khachanov or Alex de Minaur in the second round in Dubai, while Nadal is competing at the Mexican Open, with a match against Denis Kudla on Tuesday.

World number one Novak Djokovic has praised Rafael Nadal for his "incredible" triumph by winning last month's Australian Open after his own deportation forced him to miss the event.

Nadal moved beyond Djokovic with his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne with a five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Djokovic was unable to compete in Melbourne due to his vaccination status, deported amid an ugly saga after arriving in Melbourne expecting to be permitted to play.

The Serbian, who returned to the ATP Tour on Monday with a 6-3 6-3 win over Lorenzo Musetti at the Dubai Tennis Championships, was gracious in praising Nadal, who had a nagging foot injury dog him late last year.

"I think it was four, five months ago that he was on the crutches and now he's winning a slam. It's incredible," Djokovic told reporters after beating Musetti.

"I've got tons of respect for him. I don't want to take anything away from his victory, me not participating in the tournament regardless."

The Serbian was pressed on missing the Australian Open and added: "Of course, it wasn't a pleasant feeling for me leaving the country the way I did and watching the tournament from far away."

Djokovic will play either Karen Khachanov or Alex de Minaur in the second round in Dubai, while Nadal is competing at the Mexican Open, with a match against Denis Kudla on Tuesday.

Former world number one Andy Murray did not like how Novak Djokovic was treated in Australia but says the 20-time major winner must live with the consequences of his decisions.

Murray and Djokovic both progressed through the first round at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

The Serbian's 6-3 6-3 win over Lorenzo Musetti marked his first on the ATP Tour in 2022, coming in the wake of his deportation from Australia due to his vaccination status ahead of the first major of the calendar year.

It remains unclear if Djokovic will be permitted to compete at this year's other majors - the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open - given he remains unvaccinated.

"Like I said at the time, I don't agree with his decision. I think it would be a lot easier for him, obviously, if he was to get vaccinated," Murray told reporters after beating Australian Christopher O'Connell 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-5 in Dubai.

"But I also didn't like seeing him in the situation that he was in Australia as someone that I respect and have known since I was a child. I didn't like seeing that.

"There is consequences to the decisions he's made just now. He obviously has to accept that. But I don't think it's great for tennis if our best player is not competing in the major events."

Djokovic admitted after his win over Musetti that, as it stands, he cannot enter the United States to compete at next month's prestigious Indian Wells Masters, let alone the US Open.

The world number one added that he was hopeful the situation may change "in the next few weeks".

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."

Novak Djokovic won his first match back on the ATP Tour since missing the Australian Open, 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.

On Monday, 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 the Italian.

"All in all, it's a straight-sets win, so of course I have to be satisfied with my tennis, especially after not playing for two-and-a-half, three months," Djokovic said on court after the win.

"Of course, there were moments when I played great, there were moments when I made a couple of unforced errors in a row uncharacteristically. But it's normal to expect that [in my] first match after a while."

Djokovic will play the winner of Karen Khachanov against Alex de Minaur in the last 16.

Andy Murray is also through after a 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-5 win against Australian qualifier Christopher O'Connell. The Scot edged a tough match that lasted almost three hours, saving seven of eight break points faced. He will play either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Jannik Sinner next.

Elsewhere, Jiri Vesely overcame Marin Cilic 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while Filip Krajinovic beat Malek Jaziri 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 and Taro Daniel eliminated David Goffin after a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) win.

Bayern Munich have announced that Thomas Muller has tested positive for COVID-19.

The veteran forward contracted the virus for the first time in February 2021 following the Club World Cup in Doha.

Muller has now returned a positive coronavirus test for a second occasion, with the reigning Bundesliga champions confirming he will serve another period of self-isolation.

That likely rules him out of the clash with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday as Julian Nagelsmann's side look to extend their six-point advantage at the summit of the German top flight.

Muller may target a return for the meeting with Bayer Leverkusen on March 5, dependent on when he returns a negative test and comes back into training.

The Germany international's absence will serve as a blow for the Bavarian team, given he leads the assist charts this season across all competitions at Bayern (19).

Muller has 10 goals to his name - only Robert Lewandowski (39), Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry (both 12) have managed more - and has created a team-leading 89 chances, 20 more than any team-mate.

The 32-year-old has played the most games for his side this term as well (33), and his absence will frustrate Nagelsmann, who is still without Manuel Neuer after he required knee surgery.

The goalkeeper did, however, return to light training on Monday so could provide a boost for Bayern in the near future, with Alexander Nubel currently deputising in goal.

Rafael Nadal would "welcome" seeing Novak Djokovic play at future grand slam tournaments if he is granted permission to do so unvaccinated against COVID-19.

World number one Djokovic has courted controversy for his views on being jabbed and was last month deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open.

Djokovic has confirmed he is willing to miss future slams after stating he was prioritising his right to choose what to put into his body above his sporting ambitions.

In Djokovic's absence, Nadal became Australian Open champion and now has 21 titles – the most for a male player.

Nadal believes that any further omissions from Djokovic would only be harmful to the Serbian's chances of history not the slams themselves, but he would have no issue with his rival playing in the sport's biggest tournaments.

Speaking ahead of his return to the ATP Tour in Acapulco, Nadal said: "It will affect Novak's [grand slam] history if he can't play.

"It will affect him, not the grand slams themselves. Whoever wins the most slams – it will be what it will be. Everyone takes their own decisions and must live with them.

"In that sense, hopefully the pandemic subsides and we stop having so many deaths around the world and this horror ends, and we can return to normality – not for Novak but for the world in general.

"There are many people that have suffered, but if Novak can play the grand slams unvaccinated, then he is welcome."

 

Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev in an epic Melbourne showpiece to become the first man to 21 slams, but he says the achievement has not changed his life.

"Absolutely nothing has changed having 21 slams, I won't lie to you," he added.

"From 20 to 21 there is not a very large difference. Life goes on exactly the same. The only thing that has changed is that now I play tennis, which a few months ago I couldn't.

"I am very happy for everything that happened in Australia, it was very unexpected, especially before the tournament started. In my life, nothing has changed. No title is going to change what is important in my life, which are other things.

"Already, at 35 years old, I have a lot of experiences behind me, of successes and bad moments and these sensations already help me to live in a more calm and different way."

Novak Djokovic says he will play at whatever tournament will have him as he gears up to make his return to the ATP Tour.

The men's world number one has 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.

Speaking to the BBC in a recent interview, Djokovic stated he was prioritising his right to choose what to put into his body above his sporting ambitions and confirmed he is willing to miss further grand slams if necessary.

With COVID restrictions still in place in many countries, Djokovic acknowledges his options to play are limited.

"I just have to follow the rules. You know, whatever tournament that I'm able to play, I will be trying to get to that country and play the tournament," Djokovic said ahead of facing Lorenzo Musetti in round one of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

"Obviously, I'm not intending to play the full schedule and that wasn't also my intention, as you brought it up and my goal prior to this season or the season before, and I was trying to aim to play my best at the grand slams and some of the 1000 events we have, of course, and playing for my country, those were the biggest motivations that I had in terms of the scheduling. 

"Right now, the situation is obviously different for me. So, I really can't choose right now. It's really about where I can go and play. So, wherever I have an opportunity, I'll be using probably that opportunity and going to play because this is what I do, it's what I love to do still. 

"And I have support from my family and my team is still there with me and that's what's important for me because obviously it was not easy for anyone in my surroundings to go through these kinds of circumstances and situations that we have been through.

"But it's very exciting to have everyone together here with me. And in Dubai, we're back on the tour and then we'll play this tournament and we'll see how it goes further down the line."

Several stars backed the decision for Djokovic to be barred from playing in Melbourne, with most noting that he had not followed the rules in order to do so.

But the Serbian says he has been received warmly ahead of his return to the ATP Tour.

"I haven't seen too many players, but the players that I've seen have been positive and welcoming," he added.

"And it's nice to see obviously. I can't say that was the case in Australia. It was a little bit strange, but here it's well so far."

Thomas Bach reiterated his wish for peace as the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially closed the Beijing Games.

In his welcoming speech earlier in February, Bach stated: "There will be no discrimination for any reason whatsoever. In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, we show the world: yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together.

"This is the mission of the Olympic Games: bringing us together in peaceful competition. Always building bridges, never erecting walls. Uniting humankind in all our diversity."

And with tensions between Russia and the west rising over the possibility of a Ukraine invasion, Bach believes the Beijing Games have been the perfect example of "solidarity and peace", as he called on world leaders to be inspired by the athletes.

"Each and every one of you strived to achieve your personal best. We were deeply touched how you were wishing and cheering for your competitors to achieve their best as well.

"You not only respected each other: you embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict.

"You overcame these divisions, demonstrating that in this Olympic community we are all equal – regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe.

"This unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance," he said.

Bach also emphasised the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has been ongoing for two years, and Bach stressed the crucial need for poorer nations to have equal access to the vaccines.

"If we want to finally overcome this pandemic, we must be faster," he said.

"We must aim higher, we must be stronger, we must stand together. Vaccination means caring for each other.

"In this Olympic spirit of solidarity, we call on the international community: give equal access to vaccines for everybody around the world."

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