Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic is ‘always going to be the favourite’ claims former No.1

Novak Djokovic has been praised by 18-time singles Grand Slam champion and former No.1 Chris Evert, after having to withdraw from Indian Wells.

Djokovic misses out on Indian Wells for a second consecutive year, due to his vaccination status, and is likely to have to withdraw from the Miami Open as well.

Despite the disappointment, Evert believes this will only fuel the Serb’s hunger when he returns to the court, “I think the more somebody tells Novak he can’t do this, the more determined he is.”

She continued, “When he has control of the situation, it gives him more fuel and it makes him more determined to succeed, and stick it in everybody’s face at the same time, make his point.”

“He is like the anti-hero sometimes, he seems to really rise to the occasion when he is challenged and when he’s told ‘no’.”

With Djokovic’s withdrawal from the event, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz is the top seed but Evert believes the field is wide open.

“It is an open field if Novak is not playing in the tournament. If he is playing in the tournament, he is always going to be the favourite,” said Evert.

Djokovic has missed numerous tournaments due to being unvaccinated, including two Grand Slams and five Masters 1000 events, but Evert believes the 22-time Grand Slam champion is the No.1 regardless of how busy his schedule is.

“Even though he is not playing a full schedule because he can’t because of the vaccination, I think in everybody’s minds it really doesn’t matter,” claims Evert.

“He is still the No. 1 in the world. Whether he plays a full schedule or a three-quarter schedule, he is still number one in everybody’s minds.”

Although Djokovic is almost certain to miss out on the sunshine double again, this is likely to be the last time his Covid-19 vaccination status affects the tournaments he enters.

The United States is the last country on the ATP tour to have restrictions on unvaccinated people entering, and they are scheduled to come to an end on the 11th May meaning that Djokovic should be able to play the US Open and all the warmup events.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.