Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s Indian Wells absence ‘not gonna change much’ according to rivals

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are missing from Indian Wells, for very different reasons, and Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime have had their say on whether this hinders the legitimacy of the men’s tournament.

Djokovic withdrew due to not being able to enter the United States, because of his vaccination status, and could face the same fate at the Miami Open.

Nadal has been recovering from a grade two tear to his iliopsoas muscle, that he obtained in a second round defeat at the Australian Open.

The Spaniard has said that he would miss the sunshine double and will restart his season on his favourite clay surface.

This confirmed that the 14-time Roland Garros champion would leave the ATP top 10 for the first time since 2005, losing his points from reaching the Indian Wells final last year.

Fritz was the player to beat Nadal in the Californian desert in 2022, and has spoken about Djokovic’s absence from the tournament for a second consecutive season, “I see it as kind of the same as last year.”

He continued, “No Novak, but at the end of the day no one is going to look back at this tournament 10, 20 years from now and be like, oh well there’s an asterisk there because these people weren’t playing. If you win Indian Wells, you win Indian Wells.”

Fritz has an even record against Nadal, winning two apiece, but has been defeated on all six occasions he has played against Djokovic.

The No.5 was not the only player to comment on the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s not being present, with Auger-Aliassime also having his say, “It’s not gonna change much I think [on Djokovic and Nadal’s absence]. At the end of the day, there is a great field of players in the tournament that’s gonna go on and it’ll be a success.”

The Canadian added, “You know, I think for tennis, you want all the best players in the tournament. I think even me, as a competitor, like if I do win a tournament like this one, I wanna feel like there were the best of the best in the draw. Also, it’s not great for anybody that like Rafa and Novak are missing.”

Auger-Aliassime has wins over both Djokovic and Nadal, with his win over the former helping Team World to their first ever victory at the Laver Cup last year.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.