Tennis: Novak Djokovic crashes out of Indian Wells

Tennis Thursday March 14, 2024 By: Harry Howes

While it wasn’t the most damaging defeat of his career, Novak Djokovic will be slightly frustrated at his early exit from Indian Wells.

The Serbian lost to 20-year-old Luca Nardi in the third round to continue his barren run in 2024. He’s yet to win a tournament this year, which isn’t ideal preparation for the remaining Grand Slams.

The quarter-finals get underway on Thursday and Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner is the favourite to go all the way. He’s yet to drop a seat in the tournament and he comes up against Jiri Lehecka in the final eight.

Should he progress, the likes of Daniil Medvedev will be standing in his way, as will Carlos Alcaraz, who won the tournament a year ago. Andy Murray was also among the stars to take to the court at Indian Wells but the Brit was beaten by Andrey Rublev in round two.

On the women’s side of the draw, world number one Iga Świątek is in good stead to claim her second title. She comes up against Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals.

Świątek could face stiff competition from Coco Gauff, who is strong on home soil having claimed her first Grand Slam at last year’s US Open. Both Indian Wells finals take place on Sunday.

Can Medvedev defend his Miami crown?

There won’t be much time for recovery from Indian Wells as all the big hitters will be flying east for the Miami Open. Djokovic will be in action and the six-time winner is looking to go all the way for the first time since 2016.

Having looked strong at Indian Wells so far, Medvedev will be confident of defending his crown having seen off Sinner in the final a year ago. Sinner, meanwhile, will be desperate to turn his fortunes around. The Italian has lost two of the last three finals in Miami.

Murray is also set to take part and will harbour dreams of adding a third title to his collection, having won in 2009 and 2013. However, Rafael Nadal is unlikely to make it following his decision to pull out of Indian Wells.

Świątek’s only Miami title came two years ago and a strong finish at Indian Wells will put her in a strong position for the competition in Florida. Reigning champion Petra Kvitová is out of action for the foreseeable future as she prepares to have her first child.

Gauff is looking to win the tournament for the first time, while Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka is also on the entry list as she looks to continue her strong start to 2024.

Grand Slams are just around the corner

While the tour tournaments are coming thick and fast, all eyes will be on the two Grand Slams on the horizon. The French Open gets underway in May and having missed out in Australia, Djokovic is looking to become the most successful player of all time.

Nadal has made Roland Garros his playground in recent years, winning the French Open an incredible 14 times. He’ll want to play more than anything this year but as he struggles for fitness, there are fears that he’ll call time on his career if he misses out. On the women’s side, Świątek has won three of the last four French Open titles and she’ll be the favourite to go all the way this time.

Up next after the competition in Paris is the warm-up to Wimbledon at Queen’s Club, before one of the most iconic tournaments in world sport returns to SW19. Djokovic is targeting an eighth title having missed out to Alcaraz last year.

Elsewhere, Markéta Vondroušová shocked the world last summer as she became the first unseeded Wimbledon champion when she beat Ons Jabeur in the final.

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