Indian Wells | Djokovic overcomes early scare

Novak Djokovic showed some rustiness on his return to the Tennis Paradise where he has won the Indian Wells Masters title five times.

He played amazing and deserved great credit and applause, The crowd really appreciated his tennis, and the quality was really high. He played some ripping forehands and crushing serves. It was difficult to go through him Novak Djokovic

The last time the Serb world No1 won the event was back in 2016 but on his last appearance in 2019, he lost in the round of 32.

Saturday was his first time back after a five-year absence because of Covid and his stance on the vaccine, so at 36 years of age, he would seem to be pacing himself as this is only his third tournament of the season, his last outing being the Australian Open where Jannik Sinner got the better of him in the semi-finals.

No surprise then that he had a slow start on his comeback resulting in him being taken the full distance in his opening match following a first round bye, by the Australian world No.69, Aleksander Vukic who kept him on court for two-hours and 10-minutes before conceding 6-2 5-7 6-3.

After dropping the first set, Djokovic upped his game and having loosened up his arm, struck in the fifth game of the decider to bring what had been a very competitive match, to a conclusion a few games later.

“Five years is quite a long time for a professional tennis player but at the same time playing here the last time in 2019 felt like yesterday,” Djokovic said.

“I connected with the crowd and everyone I haven’t seen in five years, very quickly. A lot of people come to practice sessions, not just mine. It’s amazing to see that much passion and respect and appreciation for tennis and tennis players. It’s awesome to be in Tennis Paradise.”

Djokovic paid tribute to Vukic’s bold approach to the match. “He played amazing and deserved great credit and applause, The crowd really appreciated his tennis, and the quality was really high. He played some ripping forehands and crushing serves. It was difficult to go through him.

“He was going for it and it was going in. I kind of managed to crack the code in the third set and once I broke his serve, I felt I stepped it up a bit and finished off the match in style.”

The top seed will next meet, for the first time, Italian Lucky Loser Luca Nardi, who defeated China’s Zhang Zhizhen 6-3 3-6 6-3.

World number four Daniil Medvedev eased through as the Russian, who lost to Carlos Alcaraz in last year’s final, beat Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2 6-3.

American Taylor Fritz, the 2022 champion, progressed with a 7-6(2) 6-2 win over Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo while Norway’s Casper Ruud beat Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein 6-4 7-6 (4).


Novak Djokovic congratulates Aleksandar Vukic on a good workout

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)




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