Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

‘Novak Djokovic entry not up to us’ declares Feliciano Lopez on Madrid Masters

Madrid Open tournament director Feliciano Lopez explained this weekend that he would welcome Novak Djokovic into the event as long as Spain allows him into the country. 

The newly crowned Acapulco doubles champion is taking a pragmatic approach to whether Djokovic will play the Madrid Masters amidst uncertainty surrounding the 20-time Slam champion’s entire 2022 schedule due to his status of being unvaccinated against Covid-19.

As things stand, the Serb cannot enter the US to contest the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters in March, while there is an ongoing debate within Italian sporting politics as to whether he will be granted entry into the country to play the Rome Masters, which begins 8th May.

Immediately before Rome, the Madrid Masters will commence from 1st May, an event Djokovic has not played since winning the title in 2019 after the event was cancelled in 2020 and the Serb skipped the tournament in 2021.

“I’ve been getting asked about this a lot lately,” Lopez said from Acapulco on Friday when asked if Djokovic could play Madrid, ahead of his doubles semi-final alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“After what happened in Australia it seems that the main problem is knowing where Novak [Djokovic] will be able to be and where he will be able to play.

“In the end, we as a tournament do not have the power to decide who can go and who cannot.”

Lopez, who became tournament director of Madrid in 2019 while continuing to compete on tour, went on to reference the Australian deportation saga.

In particular, he noted how it was unclear who had permitted Djokovic to play in Melbourne.

Lopez said: “The message that was sent from Australia or interpreted by many people was very confusing.

“It was not known if Djokovic had been allowed in, who had let him in.

“The tournament? The country? People do not enter the countries because of what the tennis tournaments say but because of the laws that exist at that time, which are not imposed by a tournament or a federation.

“I hope that in the month of May Spain will be as it is now, that the Covid continues to decline, that my country is fine, that people stop dying, that everything goes better and that the restrictions are minimal or there are none.

“[I hope] that everyone can enter freely and that is what we want and what we expect.

“In that case, Novak will be welcome like all players.”

In other words, Lopez is going hands off and allowing government policy to dictate whether Djokovic can enter Spain, rather than pushing for an exemption of some kind should restrictions block Djokovic’s participation.

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