Novak is back in Indian Wells for the first time since 2019.

After receiving a first-round bye, Serbian star Novak Djokovic faced 69th-ranked Aleksandar Vukic at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Saturday.

The world no.1 recorded a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory in two hours and 10 minutes to reach the third round. It was the pair’s first ATP H2H clash.

Throughout the match, Novak demonstrated his trademark skill and resilience, breaking the Australian’s serve five times from 13 opportunities.

The five-time titlist broke Vukic twice in the first set and twice in the third, while the Australian dictated play in the second set, making the match truly entertaining and enjoyable for the spectators and tennis fans.

Djokovic paid tribute to his rival’s 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.”

“Five years is quite a long time for a professional 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 players. It’s awesome to be in Tennis Paradise.”

Already a holder of a record 40 ATP Masters 1000 titles, Nole clinched his 400th match win at that level, joining Spaniard Rafael Nadal (406) as the only players to have reached the milestone.

Match statistics: aces (11-9), double faults (5-3), winners (23-24), unforced errors (12-14), total points won (98-78).

For a place in the BNP Paribas Open last 16, Novak will play against Italian lucky loser Luca Nardi, currently ranked ATP no. 123. It will be their first career encounter.

Photo: AP

Share post