Djoko: ‘Incredible to be back’

Henry

Vaccination requirements and Covid-19 regulations have stood in the way of Novak Djokovic’s participation in the Indian Wells tournament in California for the past five years.

But the world’s number one tennis player is back in the US and he is primed for more success.

Djokovic has already held up the tournament silverware five times (in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and a sixth title is certainly within his reach.

“The last time I played on this beautiful course was in 2019 – it actually feels like yesterday to me. It’s amazing to be back and I can’t wait for the tournament to start,” the 36-year-old Serbian wrote on X.

His trophy journey begins on Friday against Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic, while possible duels against Ugo Humbert and Casper Ruud also await him.

In addition – if everything goes right for him, of course like a Toyota commercial – he can become the third player in the game’s history to celebrate 1,100 tour victories.

Jimmy Connors (1,274 wins) and Roger Federer (1,251 wins) are all players who stand between the Serbian and another record.

Granted, at the age of 36, his playing days hourglass is indeed running down, but Djokovic is hungry for success, while also seeming to have discovered the fountain of eternal youth somewhere on one of his tennis adventures.

In addition, he has previously admitted that he will not simply back down for a younger player.

“The younger men want to play their best tennis against me. Well, it also motivates me to be at my best. They definitely gave me new fire and passion,” said Djokovic.

Over the years, the Serbian has also become a master of psychological warfare on the court.

“There is no physical contact in a tennis match, but there is definitely eye contact. When we switch sides, or when we take a quick break, I keep a close eye on my opponent. How does he drink his water, does he sweat a little more than normal? Is he breathing deeply or not? Everything ultimately has an influence on the game.”