U.S denies Djokovic entry visa as American swing begins

Freshly minted champion, Daniil Medvedev, extended his winning streak to 14 matches in a row, adding the Dubai trophy, his 18th overall, to his 2023 haul after back-to-back victories in Rotterdam and Doha.

Medvedev turned up the heat on his torrid run of form as he raced past compatriot Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Dubai Championships, lifting his third trophy in as many weeks yesterday.

The champion, who didn’t drop a set all week, including against world number one, Novak Djokovic, in the semifinals, was in imperious form against Rublev, the defending champion. His highly defensive baseline game absorbed Rublev’s pace, redirecting it back to his opponent as Medvedev patrolled the baseline from almost-out-of-camera-view-territory.

Rublev showed flashes of the growing variety in his game, going to net 14 times and winning on nine occasions in an attempt to disrupt the rhythm of their long rallies. But his execution was at times lacking and against a peaking Medvedev, there was little room for error.

Despite being under pressure from Rublev’s booming forehand, Medvedev kept the score card clean by hitting just eight unforced errors, none from the backhand side and balanced them out with 22 winners. Rublev hit nearly three times as many unforced errors as Medvedev with 22, and his 13 winners weren’t enough to keep pace as the world number seven began to pull away.

The serve was the biggest difference-maker as Medvedev regularly pounced on his opponent’s vulnerable second serve and left Rublev to win just 29 per cent of those points in the match.

Medvedev, in turn, won 83 percent of points behind his first serve and Rublev was unable to generate any break point opportunities across both sets.

After celebrating the victory on his second match point, Medvedev took a marker and signed the camera lens with an ominous warning for the tour: “Not over yet.”

MEANWHILE, Serbia’s Djokovic has reportedly been denied his request to enter America unvaccinated and compete in Indian Wells and Miami by America’s homeland security, according to the men’s tennis governing body, the ATP Tour.

Djokovic had been waiting to learn whether he would be able to compete in this week’s Indian Wells Masters, as well as the upcoming Miami Open, with unvaccinated travellers still banned from entering the US until May 11. The Serb’s brother, Djordje, told Serbian media that the world number one had applied for a ‘special permit’ to enter the country and compete, something Djokovic confirmed in a press conference last week, but has now been rejected.

The U.S. Open, United States Tennis Association, Miami and Indian Wells, Billie Jean King and a huge number of players from both tours, have also released statements, calling for Djokovic to be allowed into the country to play this month’s Masters events, which starts today.

“Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and U.S. Open are hopeful that Novak is successful in his petition to enter the country, and that the fans will be able to see him back in action at Indian Wells and Miami,” the USTA statement read.

Djokovic himself had confirmed on Thursday night that he would withdraw from Indian Wells before the draw was made if he hadn’t received a response from the government in time. It comes after he had to appeal a punishment from the ATP for a late withdrawal from the tournament last year, when the draw was left imbalanced. If he wasn’t playing, he should have withdrawn yesterday but was yet to do so as at the time this was filed.

Djokovic is yet to confirm anything or release a statement to his fans regarding his participation in both tournaments.

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