Djokovic says the 'great feeling still there' after ending five-year absence in Indian Wells with comeback win

 Novak Djokovic marked a triumphant return to the BNP Paribas Open, defeating Aleksandar Vukic with a score of 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in his first match at the tournament in five years. The 24-time Grand Slam singles champion now joins Rafael Nadal as the only players with 400 wins in ATP Masters 1000 series events. Although Djokovic is a five-time champion at Indian Wells, he hadn't participated in the event since 2019.

Reflecting on his comeback, Djokovic expressed, "Five years is quite a long time for a professional tennis player, but at the same time playing here the last time in 2019 felt like yesterday, the great feeling is still there." He added, "Enjoyed myself very much. Beautiful stadium. Great atmosphere. Obviously, I was a bit nervous at the beginning, whether I'm going to start off well."

In other matches, Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka secured hard-fought victories. Gauff emerged victorious against Clara Burel with a score of 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), overcoming a deficit in the third set. Sabalenka, the two-time Australian Open champion, battled against Peyton Stearns, saving four match points to win 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Sabalenka, despite rolling her ankle during the intense match, stated, "This match will definitely go into the book of craziest matches and the best matches of my career." She is set to face Emma Raducanu in the next round.

In the women's draw, Naomi Osaka ousted No. 14 Liudmila Samsonova, winning 7-5, 6-3. The four-time Grand Slam champion, who won the BNP Paribas title in 2018, will face No. 24 Elise Mertens in the next round.

The tournament also saw some upsets, with No. 27 Victoria Azarenka falling to American Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, and No. 32 Anhelina Kalinina losing to Lucia Bronzetti 6-3, 6-4.

Djokovic, who had missed the first two Masters 1000 events of the year due to travel restrictions, managed to avoid an upset and progress to the next round in Indian Wells

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