Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2024

Novak Djokovic reveals ‘favourite Masters tournament’ ahead of long-awaited return

Novak Djokovic is set to return to Indian Wells after a five-year hiatus, and the 24-time Grand Slam champion has labelled the tournament as his ‘favourite’.

Djokovic has not been on the match court since losing in the Australian Open semi-final to eventual champion Jannik Sinner, but will return to the first half of the sunshine double next week.

The Serb last played at the tournament in 2019, missing the last two years due to his Covid-19 vaccination status.

However, after a US rule change Djokovic is ready to make his comeback to the desert, “It has been five years, way too long to not be part of the tennis paradise tournament, one of the best tournaments in the world without a doubt.

“It’s probably the favourite Masters tournament of so many players including myself. I can’t wait to come and perform once again in front of some of the best tennis fans that we have on the tour.”

Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, tied for the record alongside former rival Roger Federer, and he has reflected on some of his Californian victories, “The first time I won the title in Indian Wells, it was one of the greatest titles of my career at that point. I remember I played Mardy Fish in the finals.

“I was fortunate to win the tournament another four times and played some epic matches in the finals against Federer and [Rafael] Nadal and many of the great players in that era. I’m really looking forward to coming back.”

The Indian Wells tournament begins next week on Wednesday 6th March, with Djokovic as the top seed.

Inside the baseline…

Indian Wells is always a huge exciting tournament, hence why it is often dubbed ‘the fifth major’, but it has felt like there is something missing without Novak Djokovic in recent years. This year Djokovic should use the sunshine double as a great opportunity to cement his place as world No.1, as the 36-year-old only has points to gain, whereas his closest rivals have significant points to defend.

Novak Djokovic and his record at Indian Wells 

Djokovic currently holds the joint record for most titles at Indian Wells with Federer, so we at Tennishead wanted to look back at his record in the desert as he bids for more history:

Win-loss record: 50-9 (85%)

Number of Titles: 5

Finals Victories:

2008 – Beat Mardy Fish, 6-2 5-7 6-3

2011 – Beat Rafael Nadal, 4-6 6-3 6-2

2014 – Beat Roger Federer, 3-6 6-3 7-6(3)

2015 – Beat Roger Federer, 6-3 6(5)-7 6-2

2016 – Beat Milos Raonic, 6-2 6-0

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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.