Djokovic drops first match back from elbow surgery
3/12/2018 7:54:26 AM EST
Novak Djokovic, a five-time champion of the BNP Paribas Open, tumbled out of the event at Indian Wells, Calif., in his return from elbow surgery Sunday.
The 30-year-old Serbian, seeded 10th in the tournament, lost to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1 in second-round action. The tournament's 32 seeds all received first-round byes.
Djokovic underwent right elbow surgery after falling in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January. The Melbourne event was Djokovic's first since Wimbledon last summer, as he was sidelined due to the elbow ailment that ultimately led to the operation.
"For me it felt like first match I ever played on the tour. Very weird," he said of the loss to Daniel. "I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything. Just struggled also a little bit with (my) health the last couple of weeks.
"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."
Djokovic, who won the Indian Wells event in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, was knocked out early for the second year in a row. Last year, he fell in the fourth round.
Daniel, a 25-year-old ranked 109th in the world, hadn't won a main-draw ATP World Tour event this year before Sunday.
"He obviously wasn't in his top form, so I was able to take advantage of it," Daniel said. "And even (though) 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."
While Djokovic was exiting the event, top-seeded Roger Federer finally completed his entrance. The Swiss star finished a second-round match that was suspended due to rain Saturday night, completing a 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory over Argentina's Federico Delbonis.
The match was tied 2-2 in the second set when it was halted Saturday.
"It's been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day," Federer said. "When you go from night to day, (normally you are) playing a different opponent, so naturally, it's all a change. Whereas, here now you play the same guy the next day, so you can really compare, you know, how different conditions are. It was actually quite interesting.
"The nighttime is much deader. The surface doesn't react so much; the ball doesn't travel so fast. ... So talking about faster, I just think there is more bounce to it, especially if you play someone who has a lot of spin like he has and kicks the ball around a lot."
Federer won the Indian Wells championship for a fifth time last year, adding to his crowns in the Southern California desert in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.
Second-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia and eighth-seeded American Jack Sock both earned second-round wins in straight sets. However, ninth-seeded Lucas Pouille of France and 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina both lost to qualifiers, and 15th-seeded American John Isner fell to France's Gael Monfils 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5.
--Field Level Media