It will be an emotional return because Djokovic has not played this tournament since 2019, which is very odd. However, he did not satisfy the entry requirements of foreigners traveling to the United States at that time because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.
But those restrictions were lifted last May, meaning Djokovic was free to enter the country to compete during the US hardcourt swing last summer, and he bagged the Cincinnati Masters and a record 24th Grand Slam at the US Open.
While Djokovic has conquered many records at Indian Wells and doesn't even need to prove his worth anymore, here are five reasons why he has chosen to compete in the desert.
5. Solidify World No. 1 Spot
Playing at Indian Wells this year was a no-brainer for Djokovic because he stands to gain points over his rivals. He missed the event last year, and that could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Because Djokovic doesn't defend points during the Sunshine Swing, he can accumulate a maximum of 2,000 ranking points (equivalent to winning a Grand Slam). In that case, he would cement his World No. 1 ranking and put it beyond his rivals for a good few months.
4. Free Up Schedule In Second Half Of 2024
It's no secret that Djokovic values his time, and the second half of 2024 could be quite a busy stretch for him. Djokovic has already signed up to play the "6 Kings Slam" in October in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the paycheck is monstrous, and there is a possibility he could play in the Laver Cup after the US Open.
That would put him at risk of burnout, especially with the Asian swing happening around that time. If Djokovic ends up playing the Sunshine Swing, he could free up his schedule by skipping some ATP events in the autumn and committing to playing exhibitions.
3. Fully Recharged
If we're being honest, Djokovic had a very short offseason. He honored his word to help his country at the Davis Cup Finals at the end of last year and also played an exhibition in Saudi Arabia in December. Djokovic took the unusual route of playing the United Cup in Perth before heading to Melbourne.
Maybe he bit more than he could chew, and this ended up derailing his preparations for the Australian Open because he picked up a wrist injury in the mixed-team competition. Additionally, he struggled with a viral infection in Melbourne. The month-long break will replenish his energy levels, and Indian Wells couldn't have come at a better time.
2. Australian Open Disappointment
Djokovic's Australian Open campaign was at sixes and sevens this year for a few reasons, one of which was his health. If the Serb is not functioning at 100%, his chances of performing well diminish greatly. After losing his crown in Melbourne, Djokovic is motivated to make up for the disappointment.
1. Become the Most Successful Player At the Tournament
Djokovic and Roger Federer are the two most successful players to win the Indian Wells tournament, each boasting five titles. With Federer now retired, the 36-year-old can have the record by himself if he conquered the field during the fortnight.