Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic says he is out to reassert his dominance on the hard courts of Indian Wells as he seeks a fifth sunshine double.
The Serbian star arrives at a tournament shaken by a tough second-round exit at the Australian Open, which was followed by a shock quarter-final loss to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco.
The setbacks come on the back of a troublesome second half of 2016, when he lost his world No 1 ranking to Andy Murray and relinquished his Wimbledon and US Open titles.
Djokovic nonetheless says his game remains good enough to get him back to the summit and is banking on more success in California, despite a stacked bottom half of the draw which includes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
“I haven’t had too many draws like that,” Djokovic said. “It’s quite amazing to see that many quality players are in one quarter.
“It is what it is,” he added. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck, but we’ll see what happens. I guess in the first four or five days of the tournament we’ll have some very, very strong matches.
“This is a great occasion for me to try and get a good result. I started the year very well by winning in Doha, but after that I lost at the Australian Open, Acapulco and I played a match in Davis Cup so I haven’t had too many matches this year and I’m looking forward to competing here.”
Djokovic has completed the sunshine double at Indian Wells and Miami three years in a row and he feels the extra length of the Indian Wells tournament has enabled him enough time to recover for matches.
“You pretty much have more time to recover between matches,” he added. “It really does allow you to be on top of your form for more or less every match. It gives you time to get in the right state of mind and compete.”
Two victories would see Djokovic reach 300 match wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level and also see him join Pete Sampras (762 tour-level wins) in a tie for 10th place in the list of most wins in the Open Era.
Watch Novak Djokovic take on Britain’s Kyle Edmund, live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm this Sunday.
Young Austrian Dominic Thiem hopes to maintain his high level when he opens his campaign against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy at the Masters 1000 event.
Thiem, who won the Rio Open, feels the result in Brazil has helped him turn his season around.
“I was not happy at all with my game at the beginning of the season,” he said. “But Rio was very nice for my confidence, and I hope to maintain the good level here.”
Watch Dominic Thiem take on Britain’s Jeremy Chardy, live on Sky Sports 5 from 7pm on Saturday.
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