Novak Djokovic could become the first man to win the ‘sunshine double’ since Roger Federer 2017 if he is able to compete at Indian Wells and Miami next and win the two tournaments next month. The world No 1 has applied for a “special permit” to enter the country and compete while unvaccinated travellers are currently banned from the United States.
Djokovic is hoping to be allowed to play the ‘sunshine double’ of Masters 1000 tournaments ext month, with his brother Djordje telling Serbian media Tanjung that the world No 1 had applied to be allowed into the country to compete. “Novak has to get a special permit, considering that the USA still does not allow entry to unvaccinated people,” he said.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion is in peak form following his run to a historic 10th Australian Open crowd and has won 37 of his last 38 matches, making him a favourite for both Indian Wells and Miami if he can compete. And if Djokovic can play and win both tournaments, it would make him the first man to achieve the ‘sunshine double’ in six years.
Djokovic already holds the record for most sunshine doubles completed with four in total, achieving the feat in 2011 before winning the tournaments in three-successive seasons in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Federer just trails his rival with three sunshine doubles but is the last ATP player to have lifted the two trophies in the same year, completing the set in 2005, 2006 and 2017.
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And it means that the 35-year-old could end a six-year drought and extend his record with five separate sunshine doubles to his name if he can play and win the tournaments, as he would already go in as a heavy favourite. The world No 1 is one of just ten players to have won the two events in one season, with Iga Swiatek achieving the feat last year.
Djokovic has not competed in either event since 2019 where he reached just the third round in Indian Wells and the fourth round in Miami, with both events not held in 2020 as they fell at the start of the Covid pandemic while he opted not to play in 2021 and was unable to travel to America in 2022.
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He is currently scheduled to play another event before the sunshine swing begins, as he is signed up for the Dubai ATP 500 in the week of February 27 but it remains to be seen whether Djokovic plays after carrying a hamstring injury during his Australian Open run. The 93-time title winner has made it no secret that he wants to compete in Indian Wells and Miami but made it clear that he would accept it if he was unable to.
“What can I do? Nothing,” he told reporters in Adelaide last month. “You know my position, so it is what it is. I’m hoping (to play), but if I can’t go, I can’t go.” According to his brother Djordje, the clock was running out for the government to decide whether they will allow Djokovic in with a special permit. “There are a few days left until the decision, we are hoping for a positive outcome,” he said.