Returning Novak Djokovic crashes out of Indian Wells Masters

By @saihoops on
Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells Masters
Mar 11, 2018; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Novak Djokovic (SRB) during his second round match against Taro Daniel (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Daniel won the match. USA TODAY Sports / Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic made an unsuccessful return to the sport on Sunday (Monday AEDT) as he crashed out of the Indian Wells Masters in a Round of 64 match. World No. 109 Taro Daniel sent the five-time BNP Paribas Open winner tumbling out of the event with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

Djokovic, 30, made his first appearance since an injury ended his Australian Open campaign in January. The Serb was returning from the persistent elbow injury that kept him out of action for most of 2017. Last month, Djokovic underwent another surgery on the same elbow, with hopes of returning to his best closer to the European clay court and grass court seasons.

After the defeat, Djokovic admitted that he had lost his rhythm and mental edge. "It felt like first match I ever played on the tour. Very weird. I completely lost rhythm. I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly but at the same time I just didn't feel good at all. I was not even supposed to be here because of the surgery that was only five, six weeks ago. But I recovered very quickly, and I got myself ready," the former 12-time Grand Slam champion told reporters, via BBC

The defeat marked just the fifth time in the past decade when Djokovic lost to a player outside the ATP top 100. Daniel, a qualifier from Japan, benefitted from Djokovic's 61 unforced errors.

"He (Djokovic) obviously wasn't in his top form. So I was able to take advantage of it. And even if I lost the second set, I still had faith I could pull something off in the third. I was able to stay pretty tough, so I'm pretty proud of that. I played the best set of the whole match and that was really good," said the 25-year-old Japanese qualifier.

Meanwhile, World No. 1 Roger Federer qualified for the Round of 32 with a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Argentina's Federico Delbonis. Federer and Delbonis resumed their Saturday match, which was called off by rain with Federer up by one set. The Swiss Master is trying to successfully retain his Indian Wells title.