Novak Djokovic to return to Indian Wells after long absence
Also set to play are Rafa Nadal, reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz and Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner
Toronto — Novak Djokovic is expected to return to Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open in March after a five-year hiatus due to Covid and US travel restrictions, according to the entry list released on Wednesday by tournament organisers.
Also featured in the men’s line-up is three-times Indian Wells champion Rafa Nadal, who missed January’s Australian Open due to a muscle tear but has since been included on the entry list for a February 19-24 ATP 250 event in Doha.
World No 1 Djokovic, whose last appearance at Indian Wells in 2019 ended with a third-round exit, will be seeking an unprecedented sixth title at what is regarded the biggest tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slam events.
The 2020 BNP Paribas Open was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak and Djokovic missed the next three editions as the US did not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.
Among the other names in the star-studded field are reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz, Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner and Taylor Fritz, who in 2022 became the first American man since Andre Agassi in 2001 to win the Indian Wells title.
On the women’s side, world No 1 Iga Swiatek will be joined by 2023 Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina, Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka and Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.
Naomi Osaka, an Indian Wells champion in 2018, and 2019 finalist Angelique Kerber are also expected to return for the first time since 2022 following maternity leave.
This year’s BNP Paribas Open runs from March 3 to 17.
• Former world No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska is considering a new career as a padel professional after recently making her debut on the CUPRA FIP Tour in Spain.
Poland’s Radwanska, who reached the Wimbledon final in 2012, where she lost to Serena Williams, played with compatriot Marta Domachowska, another former tennis professional. They reached the last 16 of the tournament and Radwanska, who retired in 2018, said she would like to enter another event.
“I would still like to play on the FIP circuit, because padel is a sport I like and it is growing all over the world,” the 34-year-old said of the racket sport that combines elements of tennis and squash.
“The good thing is that I don’t need to plan the season from start to finish. If my schedule allows, I will be back on the court soon.”
Radwanska said adapting from tennis was not as easy as some might think.
“I find it a dynamic and fun sport: I play as soon as I can, even twice a week, compatibly with my role of mother,” she said in an interview with the International Padel Federation.
“It is very difficult. Certainly in touch, having played tennis helps, volleys are not a problem. The problem is I would like to hit hard every time but I can’t. Padel is a sport that never allows you to relax during the point, every point is a struggle.”
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