Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Novak Djokovic loses on his comeback at Indian Wells

Roger Federer GETTY Roger Federer is back in action at Indian Wells
Ellis Copeland | 13 March, 2018, 01:17

On Sunday, the former world No. 1 could not even get past his opening match in Indian Wells, despite another extended break from the game he once dominated and after what he termed "a small medical intervention" on his troublesome right elbow.

World No. 109 Taro Daniel sent the five-time BNP Paribas Open victor tumbling out of the event with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Federer charged into a 4-1 lead, then went ahead 5-2, stuttering before clinching the match with a stretching trademark volley that Delbonis returned into the net. Daniel, a qualifier from Japan, benefitted from Djokovic's 61 unforced errors.

Old rival Rafael Nadal will overtake Federer at the top of the world rankings if the Swiss fails to reach the semi-final in Indian Wells.

After the defeat, Djokovic admitted that he had lost his rhythm and mental edge. But his elbow problems certainly appear to be the much bigger concern.

Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon past year and returned at January's Australian Open, where he lost in the fourth round. I was not even supposed to be here because of the surgery that was only five, six weeks ago.

If the surgery wasn't enough, Djokovic looked like he had been suffering from illness on the eve of Indian Wells.

"Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything".

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"I just struggled also a little bit with the health the last couple of weeks".

"I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly but at the same time I just didn't feel good at all".

Djokovic had four aces but overall he served poorly making four double faults and winning just 65 per cent of his first-serve points.

"Nerves were there. I made so many unforced errors". That has always been a rock solid shot for me throughout my career. "But that's, I guess, it's all part of those particular circumstances that I'm in at the moment". But the Argentine backed Djokovic to recover. "I have been sick for over a week and tried everything I could to get better".

On the women's side, top-ranked Simona Halep came back to top 19-year-old Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in just over two hours.

Roger Federer didn't rule out the clay season, at least not yet, he said yesterday at Indian Wells.

Daniel, who is ranked 109th in the world, advanced to the third round where he will face Gael Monfils of France who outlasted American John Isner 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

As for Djokovic, the question now is whether he will play in Miami later this month.

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