Djokovic wins in return to Indian Wells after 5-year absence

Novak Djokovic made a profitable return to the desert, beating Aleksandar Vukic 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 on Saturday in his first match on the BNP Paribas Open in 5 years.

The 24-time Grand Slam singles champion joined Rafael Nadal as the one gamers to win 400 matches in ATP Masters 1000 collection occasions. The highest-ranked Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, tied with Roger Federer for many by a male, however hadn’t performed within the occasion since 2019.

“5 years is kind of a very long time for knowledgeable tennis participant, however on the similar time taking part in right here the final time in 2019 felt like yesterday,” Djokovic stated. “I linked with the gang and everybody I have not seen in 5 years in a short time”

Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka additionally gained – barely – rallying to win their opening matches in third-set tiebreakers.

Gauff edged Clara Burel 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). The U.S. Open ladies’s champion trailed 4-0 after which 5-2 within the third set, leaving her a sport away from changing into the second high American upset by Burel this yr. The No. 47-ranked participant from France beat No. 5 Jessica Pegula within the second spherical of the Australian Open.

Sabalenka, the two-time Australian Open champion who misplaced to Gauff within the ultimate at Flushing Meadows, fought off 4 match factors earlier than outlasting American Peyton Stearns 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (6).

The No. 2 seed will face Emma Raducanu, the 2021 U.S. Open ladies’s champion who reached the third spherical when No. 30-seeded Dayana Yastremska needed to retire after Raducanu had taken a 4-0 lead.

The third-seeded Gauff superior to face Lucia Bronzetti within the third spherical. The Italian knocked off No. 32 Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-4.

However Pegula was eradicated within the second spherical once more Saturday, with Anna Blinkova of Russia beating her 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Naomi Osaka knocked out one other seeded participant, ousting No. 14 Liudmila Samsonova of Russia, 7-5, 6-3. The four-time Grand Slam champion who returned to competitors this yr after giving start gained the 2018 BNP Paribas title. She’s going to subsequent face No. 24 Elise Mertens.

No. 27 Victoria Azarenka, who gained the occasion twice, was upset by American Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

Djokovic averted an upset by pulling away from the No. 69-ranked Vukic within the third set of his first match since falling to Jannik Sinner within the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Djokovic gained Masters 1000 titles final yr at Cincinnati and Paris, however could not play within the first two of the yr in Indian Wells and Miami, nonetheless prevented on the time from touring to the U.S. as a foreigner who was not vaccinated towards COVID-19.

He gained within the desert in 2008 and 2011, then three straight occasions from 2014-16. The 36-year-old from Serbia is 400-86 in ATP Masters 1000 occasions. Nadal, who withdrew simply earlier than the occasion, has 406 victories within the 9 tournaments on the stage under the Grand Slams.

In late matches, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev beat Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2, 6-3, and Gael Monfils topped eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-2,

No. 12 Taylor Fritz and No. 28 Cam Norrie, each previous champions at Indian Wells, moved into the third spherical together with No. 13 Grigor Dmitrov. No. 14 Ugo Humbert and No. 21 Adrian Mannarino each superior, whereas Arthur Fils, one other Frenchman, ousted No. 23 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 6-4.

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