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Djokovic to seek 6th title at Indian Wells after five-year hiatus


Novak Djokovic of Serbia announced on Tuesday that he was excited to compete at next week's BNP Paribas Open, regarded by many as the biggest tennis tournament outside of the four Grand Slams.

This is the first time in five years that the 24-time Grand Slam winner competes again in the Masters 1000 event, where he has won a record of five times.

"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," said Djokovic, whose most recent appearance at Indian Wells dates back to 2019 when he suffered a third-round exit. The 2020 BNP Paribas Open was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and he missed the next three editions as the U.S. did not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

"It's probably the favorite 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."

"I was fortunate to win the tournament another four times and played some epic matches in the finals against (Roger) Federer and (Rafa) Nadal and many of the great players in that era. I'm really looking forward to coming back," he added. 

File photo of Novak Djokovic. /CFP
File photo of Novak Djokovic. /CFP

File photo of Novak Djokovic. /CFP

According to the entry list released by the organizers on Wednesday, Spain's 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal will also make an appearance in California after postponing his return this year and missing last month's Australian Open due to a muscle tear earlier in Brisbane. 

Meanwhile, the star-studded event also features reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner of Italy and Taylor Fritz, who in 2022 became the first American man since Andre Agassi in 2001 to win the Indian Wells title.

On the women's side, world number one Iga Swiatek of Poland will be joined by defending champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, and local favorites Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.

(With input from Reuters)

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