February 08, (THEWILL) – World number one, Novak Djokovic, is expected to return to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March, ending a five-year hiatus from the tournament. The 36-year-old Serbian has not played at Indian Wells since 2019 due to COVID-19 disruptions and US travel restrictions, which barred unvaccinated foreigners from entering the country.
Djokovic will be seeking a record-extending sixth Indian Wells title in his return to the event widely regarded as the biggest tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slams. The Serb joins a stacked field featuring defending champion, Carlos Alcaraz, Australian Open victor, Jannik Sinner and 2022 Indian Wells winner, Taylor Fritz.
Also set to play is three-time Indian Wells champion, Rafael Nadal, who missed last month’s Australian Open with a muscle tear, but is on the entry list for the Qatar Open later this month. Nadal will be hoping to add to his three titles from 2007, 2009 and 2013.
On the women’s side, world number one, Iga Swiatek, heads a formidable lineup including 2023 Indian Wells winner, Elena Rybakina, Australian Open champion, Aryna Sabalenka and America’s Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.
Former champions, Naomi Osaka (2018) and Angelique Kerber (2019), are also expected to return after maternity breaks. This year’s BNP Paribas Open takes place from March 3-17.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.