INDIAN WELLS — Novak Djokovic is expected to return to Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open next month after a five-year hiatus due to Covid-19 and US travel restrictions, according to the entry list released by tournament organisers, Reuters reported.
Also featured in the men’s lineup is three-times Indian Wells champion Rafa Nadal, who missed last month’s Australian Open due to a muscle tear but has since been included on the entry list for a Feb. 19-24 ATP 250 event in Doha.
World number one Djokovic, whose last appearance at Indian Wells in 2019 ended with a third-round exit, will be seeking an unprecedented sixth title at what is regarded the biggest tennis tournament outside of the four Grand Slam events.
The 2020 BNP Paribas Open was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak and Djokovic missed the next three editions as the United States did not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.
Among the other names in the star-studded field are reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz, Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner 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 will be joined by 2023 Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina, Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka and Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.
Naomi Osaka, an Indian Wells champion in 2018, and 2019 finalist Angelique Kerber, are also expected to return for the first time since 2022 following maternity leave.
This year’s BNP Paribas Open runs from March 3-17.