The Independent

Sport news in brief


Djokovic withdraws from Indian Wells

World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week after failing to secure special permission to enter the United States. Only internatio­nal visitors vaccinated against Covid-19 are currently allowed to come into the US and Djokovic has refused to have any of the available jabs. The restrictio­ns are due to end next month and Djokovic had hoped an exception would be made but, with the tournament beginning tomorrow, he has now admitted defeat.

A statement from the tournament read: “World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2023 BNP Paribas Open. With his withdrawal, Nikoloz Basilashvi­li moves into the field.” It is the second year in a row Djokovic has missed the tournament, one of the biggest on the ATP Tour, and he is also set to sit out the Miami Open later this month. The 35-year-old, who won a 22nd grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, had received backing from the US Open and the United States Tennis Associatio­n.

A statement on the US Open Twitter feed read: “Novak Djokovic is one (of) the greatest champions our sport has ever seen. The USTA and US 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.” Djokovic’s opposition to being vaccinated resulted in him missing six significan­t tournament­s last season, including the Australian Open and US Open. Having suffered a first defeat of the season to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals of the ATP event in Dubai last week, he is set to return to action on clay at the Monte-Carlo Masters beginning on 9 April. PA

Brentford defeat Fulham in derby thriller

Brentford fuelled their ambition of playing European football with a 3-2 home victory over fellow hopefuls Fulham to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 12 games yesterday. Ivan Toney's second-half penalty and a late effort by Mathias Jensen sealed the points for ninth-placed Brentford against their west London rivals to edge them closer to the European qualificat­ion places.

Toney, who is facing FA charges and a possible ban after alleged breaches of gambling rules, coolly slotted his kick past Fulham keeper Bernd Leno in the 53rd minute after a clumsy foul by Issa Diop on Christian Norgaard. Jensen then tapped in from a tight angle after a superb run and cut back by Kevin Schade in the 85th minute to kill of a below-par Fulham whose four-game unbeaten run came to an end.

Brentford had taken an early lead with a deflected shot by Ethan Pinnock but Fulham hit back shortly before halftime when Manor Solomon scored for the fourth successive league match. Fulham's Carlos Vinicius did grab a stoppage-time consolatio­n with almost the last kick but Thomas Frank's Brentford side are now unbeaten in the Premier League since October and have 38 points from 24 games, one point behind seventh-placed Fulham and four behind fifth-placed Liverpool. Reuters

Bangladesh beat England to avoid ODI sweep

Shakib Al Hasan put on an outstandin­g performanc­e as Bangladesh beat England by 50 runs yesterday to avoid a threematch sweep in their one-day internatio­nal series. All-rounder Shakib followed his 71 ball-75 with 4-35, becoming the first Bangladesh­i bowler to take 300 wickets, to lead the hosts to victory in the series finale. Mushfiqur Rahim complement­ed Shakib's batting effort with 70 and Najmul Hossain added 53 to help steer Bangladesh to 246 all out in 48.5 overs. England's much-vaunted batting lineup then crumbled under the sustained pressure of spinners in being bowled out for 196 in 43.1 overs. AP

Benn reveals suicidal thoughts after failed drugs tests

Conor Benn has revealed he struggled with suicidal thoughts after testing positive for a banned substance ahead of his fight with Chris Eubank Jr. Benn failed a drugs test in the lead-up to last October’s planned encounter, causing the cancellati­on of the fight. The 26-year-old maintains his innocence and was recently reinstated to the WBC rankings after the body ruled that a “highly-elevated consumptio­n of eggs” could have caused the adverse finding.

Benn twice tested positive for the female fertility drug clomifene and remains under investigat­ion from UK Anti-Doping and the British Boxing Board of Control. The boxer has again insisted he did not take the drug, opening up on the mental strife he has

suffered since the fight was called off. “It’s hurt me, it’s hurt me this has,” Benn said in an interview with Piers Morgan on Talk TV. “I didn’t think I was going to make it through this period. I was shamed for something I hadn’t even done, it’s hard because I felt like I was on death row for something I haven’t even done. It’s been hard for the family.”

The welterweig­ht admitted the saga left him with suicidal thoughts: “I didn’t think I’d see another day. Yeah [I was feeling suicidal], yeah I’d say so, and it upsets me now because I don’t know how I got so bad. I got in a really bad way about it. You’ve got to remember, if you think I’m innocent or if you don’t think I’m innocent, I am innocent.” The son of former two-weight world champion Nigel, welterweig­ht Benn is undefeated as a profession­al fighter. He and Eubank Jr had been due to meet at the O2 Arena on 8 October in a catchweigh­t bout.

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 ?? (AP) ?? Novak Djokovic remains unab l e to enter the US because he is not vaccinated against Covid - 19
(AP) Novak Djokovic remains unab l e to enter the US because he is not vaccinated against Covid - 19
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