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5 things to look forward to at the Indian Wells Masters 2017

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1.48K   //    06 Mar 2017, 19:34 IST

The first ATP Masters tournament of the year, the hard-court Indian Wells tournament, is due to begin on Wednesday, the 9th of March, 2017. While qualification rounds are already underway, some of the top players will look to declare themselves here. 

Novak Djokovic is defending 1000 points at the tournament here as the reigning champion, while reports have suggested that 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic may not participate as a result of injury.

Four-time champion Roger Federer will be playing at Indian Wells, as will Novak Djokovic, who will be looking to extend his record here from 5 titles to 6, and with it his already-held Open Era record for titles at the venue.

Here’s what we’re looking forward to from the tournament:

The Return of Novak Djokovic

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 7 : Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after winning a point against Andy Murray of Great Britain during the men's singles final match of the ATP Qatar Open tennis competition held at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex on January 7, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by AK BijuRaj/Getty Images)
Djokovic started the year with a title, but has struggled a fair bit since

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had a difficult second half to the 2016 season, struggling with results at both Masters and Majors. The Serbian ace has been experiencing undisclosed problems in his form of late, with many fans hoping to see a resurgent Djokovic in the 2017 season.

However, his woes appear to have continued into the 2017 season, with Djokovic seeing a shock Australian Open exit at the hands of Uzbek qualifier Denis Istomin early on; he had been defending his title there. 

That was followed up with a straight sets quarter-final loss to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios at the Acapulco Open in Mexico last week, casting doubts on whether the player has entirely returned to fitness. 

Now, the Serb will hope to redeem himself with the first Masters event of the year.

Incidentally, Djokovic is the reigning champion at Indian Wells, having defeated Milos Raonic here last year. He has won the tournament five times in the past, of which two wins were over Roger Federer, and one over Rafael Nadal. 

In a recent interview, Djokovic revealed that tennis was ‘no longer (my) number one priority,’ and that he was now more focused on being a ‘father and husband.’ Apart from his injuries, the player has made no secret of his personal struggles, and we might see him struggle in terms of form until he reaches a happy medium in that regard; mental health is as key to a good performance as physical health is. 

That said, however, fans may take heart from the fact that Djokovic is not struggling physically. After dealing with a wrist injury in 2016, Djokovic, who also had elbow issues, has been dealing with ‘personal’ issues and is likely struggling with motivation, as Rafael Nadal has in the past. 

Now without a coach, Djokovic will also look to sustain that motivation. 

Given his prior successes at the venue – and on this surface, we still expect Djokovic to go quite far into the tournament; of course that will depend on the draw he receives, but the Serb has maintained a consistently high level of tennis regardless.

He has 1,000 points to defend here at Indian Wells, and considering his 5,600 point deficit to Andy Murray at the moment, it is one title the Serb will work hard to defend. 

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