In His Comeback To Indian Wells, Djokovic Triumphs

Five years after making his previous appearance at the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters, Novak Djokovic battled his way to a victory on Saturday, defeating Aleksandar Vukic 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

The top-seeded Djokovic is going for a sixth victory at the desert venue in the first Masters event of the season. The Serbian had not played since losing in the Australian Open semifinal to eventual champion Jannik Sinner in January.

The 36-year-old Serb became the first man to win 400 matches at the elite level, following Rafael Nadal, by winning his 400th career Masters match.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion, who won crowns in Cincinnati and Paris Bercy last season, has won 11 of his past 12 Masters matches.

It wasn’t just Djokovic who was put to the test.

US Open winner Coco Gauff overcame France’s Clara Burel 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), while Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka saved four match points en route to her 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) second-round victory over 64th-ranked Peyton Stearns.

In his first game since Melbourne, Djokovic acknowledged feeling a little nervous. He won the first set in 35 minutes with two service breaks, but against his 69th-ranked Australian opponent, he had to rally from a break down in the third.

In order to even the match at one set apiece, Vukic held for 6-5 in the second set and scored a winning reflex serve return.

Top seed Djokovic broke for a 3-2 lead in the third game and won with a second break two hours later, marking his 51st triumph in the tournament where he made his debut in 2006.

“I was a bit nervous at the beginning, you know, whether I’m going to start off well,” Djokovic admitted. “I had not played a match in more than five weeks.”

“He made me produce some really important points in games in order to prevail. “I’m glad that I was pushed, which is important.”

The second-ranked woman in the world, Sabalenka, struggled much more against Stearns. She needed four of her own after preserving four match points, rolling an ankle in the process.

“This match definitely goes into the book of craziest and the best matches of my career,” she stated.

“She played incredible tennis. I kept telling myself, ‘Stay there, fight for every point. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“This is the match for crazy comebacks, and I did it,” Sabalenka continued. Emma Raducanu advances after Dayana Yastremska announced her retirement due to sickness while behind 4-0.

In the decisive third set, third-seeded Gauff, who turns 20 on Wednesday, fell behind her 47th-ranked French opponent 4-0 and 5-2 before rallying to force a tiebreaker.

The Frenchwoman led 5–4 and she cleared the path by shattering Burel’s heart to love.

Gauff advanced on her third match point in the tiebreaker after Burel swung wide.

Gauff declared, “I’m happy with the mental fight.” “It was not my best tennis… but it’s how you show up on your worst days, not your best ones, that counts.”

In other women’s action, Liudmila Samsonova was defeated 7-5, 6-3 by former world number one Naomi Osaka, who is continuing her comeback following a maternity leave.

“I was more confident today with the set point and trusting myself and knowing that no matter what happens, go for my shots,” Osaka stated.

Fifth place After losing to Jessica Pegula in San Diego earlier this month, Anna Blinkova took retribution, defeating the American 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev, the fourth-seeded man and six-time Masters champion, easily defeated Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in his opening round, winning 6-2, 6-3.

Late in the second set, a flashing light high above the stadium broke up play, but it wasn’t enough to stop Medvedev from continuing on his winning streak.

When Canadian tennis player and previous Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic withdrew from their match due to an injury, seventh seed Holger Rune advanced unopposed to the third round.

Alejandro Tabilo of Chile was defeated by US 12th seed and 2022 champion Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 in 73 minutes, with Fritz producing 14 aces out of his 27 wins.

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *