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Serbia's Novak Djokovic signs autographs after defeating France's Quentin Halys during their Round of 16 match at the Adelaide International Tennis tournament in Adelaide on Thursday. Image Credit: AP

Adelaide: Novak Djokovic said “it is what it is” on Thursday as he faced the prospect of missing more tournaments in the United States over his refusal to have a coronavirus shot.

The former world No 1 is set to miss the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami Open ATP 1000 events after US authorities extended their requirement for international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“I saw it, but I don’t think it’s official yet, so when it’s official we can speak about it,” the Serbian 21-time Grand Slam winner said in Adelaide, where he is preparing for the Australian Open.

Nothing can be done

When reporters at a press conference cited a statement from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), he replied: “I mean, if it is official then it is — what can I do? Nothing. 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,” added the 35-year-old.

The TSA has reportedly extended the ban on unvaccinated non-citizens until April, with Indian Wells running from March 6-19 and the Miami Open from March 19-April 2.

Djokovic was prevented from entering the United States to play the US Open last year over his vaccination status, having been deported from Australia in January ahead of the Australian Open for the same reason.

He was initially banned from Australia for three years after losing a high-stakes legal battle, but the requirement for visitors to show proof of vaccination has since been lifted and his ban overturned.

Memories stick with you

Speaking about the Australian experience last week, Djokovic said: “You can’t forget those events. It’s one of these things that sticks with you, it stays with you for I guess the rest of your life.

“It was something that I’ve never experienced before, and hopefully never again.”

The Serb has slipped to five in the world and risks forfeiting up to 2,000 ranking points if he does not play Indian Wells and Miami.

Djokovic said he wants to play a practice match against Nick Kyrgios ahead of the Australian Open, the latest improvement in what was once an icy relationship.

Stood by me during crisis

Previously the pair rarely saw eye-to-eye, but their relations warmed when Kyrgios became one of the few players to offer Djokovic support in his Australia deportation saga a year ago, related to his Covid vaccination status.

“I wasn’t his favourite guy — let’s say it that way — for many years,” Djokovic said in Adelaide, where he is preparing for the Australian Open.

“But he was one of the very few that stood by me last year, and I respect that and appreciate that.

“In those moments you can actually see who truly supports you and who is by your side and who goes with, I guess, the flow of the society and the pressures that media puts on you.

Changed for better

“He was giving me undivided support in the moments where I was being challenged a lot, and him as an Australian, I respected that a lot. Since then, our relationship has changed for better.”

It has changed so much that they are planning to practice together at Melbourne Park next week, as Kyrgios recovers from an ankle injury.

“Well, we are talking with the Australian Open about doing something in a week prior to the start of the tournament,” he said.

“Yes, I chatted with Nick, and I would like to play with him, and he accepted, but he wants shorter sets. Let’s see if that works out.”