The Serbian hasn't played in Indian Wells since 2019, which is very uncommon for an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. Most of that was also both directly and indirectly caused by the pandemic.
One edition wasn't held because of the pandemic, while Djokovic missed the others due to not meeting the requirements to enter the United States, which was again tied directly to the pandemic.
Due to the good facilities and organization, the Indian Wells Open even carries the unofficial name, the Fifth Slam. Djokovic will experience it again this year for the first time in five years.
Recently, his website listed the Indian Wells Open as his next event, causing quite a euphoria among fans in the United States. Now, his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, confirmed in an interview with Sportske Novosti that Djokovic will indeed play at the event.
"A month, but that was the plan, regardless of the outcome of the Australian Open. Indian Wells in March is our first next tournament."
The Croatian confirmed the news while attending Croatia's Davis Cup tie, where he spoke to the media. He clearly mentioned that regardless of the Australian Open results, it was the plan from the start to go to Indian Wells.
Djokovic has often played in the Middle East, but he won't be going there this year. He'll skip that part of the season to rest up and properly prepare for the Sunshine Double, which will be his first in years.
Whether any of that has anything to do with the injury concerns he dealt with Down Under remains to be seen, but he's made scheduling compromises before, and it wouldn't come as a surprise this time around either.