Novak Djokovic loses a set but beats Aleksandar Vukic in Indian Wells

Novak Djokovic defeated Aleksandar Vukic in three sets at Stadium 1

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic loses a set but beats Aleksandar Vukic in Indian Wells
© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 and five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic won his first match in the desert after five years! Novak took down world no. 69 Aleksandar Vukic 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in two hours and ten minutes, earning his 400th Masters 1000 win and joining Rafael Nadal on the exclusive list.

Djokovic played well behind the first serve and saved four out of six break points. He kept the pressure on Vukic with a rock-solid display on the second-serve return, seizing five out of 13 break chances and sealing the deal in three sets.

Novak hit 24 winners and 22 unforced errors, beating Aleksandar in the shortest and more advanced exchanges.

Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak served at 78% in the opening set and controlled everything on serve and return.

The Serb dropped six points behind the initial shot, defending the only break chance offered to his rival and turning almost half of the return points into two breaks, wrapping up the opener in 34 minutes. Djokovic grabbed a crafty point at the net at 0-30 in the first game of the encounter and missed a break point after Vukic's fine attack.

Novak earned the second break chance and seized it after Aleksandar's terrible forehand for 1-0 and an early break. The Serb cemented the lead with a backhand down the line winner in game two and created another break opportunity in the next one after the Aussie's wayward backhand.

Vukic denied it with a service winner on the second serve and held, reducing the deficit to 2-1. Aleksandar drew Novak's mistake in the fourth game with a deep return, creating a break chance. World no. 1 denied it with a booming serve and held with another to open a 3-1 gap.

Vukic served well in game five, and Djokovic followed that in the next one, forging a 4-2 advantage with a hold at love thanks to a service winner. Aleksandar netted a backhand in the seventh game, offering Novak a break point.

The Aussie placed a forehand long, dropping serve for the second time and falling 5-2 behind. World no. 1 served for the set in game eight and produced set point with a booming serve down the T line.

Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic ousted Aleksandar Vukic in Indian Wells.

Novak seized the first with an ace, wrapping up the opener 6-2 and hoping for more in set number two.

Aleksandar stayed competitive in the second set despite taking only 25% of the points behind the second serve. The Aussie forged a 3-0 advantage and grabbed another break in the closing stages with a return winner to introduce a decider and extend his chances against his idol.

Aleksandar clinched the first game with a powerful serve and pushed strong on the return in the next one, creating two break points with a forehand down the line winner. Novak denied them and reached deuce before missing a backhand on the third, losing serve and falling 2-0 behind.

Vukic missed a backhand in the third game, offering Djokovic three break chances. The Aussie stayed calm and saved them, forcing the Serb's mistake and holding for a 3-0 advantage. Novak reduced the deficit with a forehand crosscourt winner in the fourth game and bounced back from 40-15 down in the next one.

Djokovic created a break chance and converted it with a volley winner, reducing the deficit to 3-2 and returning to the positive side. The Serb held at 15 in the sixth game, taking three straight games and locking the result at 3-3.

Vukic landed two winners at 30-30 in the seventh game, ending his downfall and remaining competitive. Djokovic responded with a hold at love in game eight, closing it with a powerful serve and sending the pressure to the other side.

Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak missed a routine backhand at 30-30 in the ninth game after an extended rally, and Aleksandar closed the game with a service winner for 5-4.

Djokovic served to stay in the set in game ten and secured it with a forehand down the line winner, locking the result at 5-5. Vukic notched his third straight good hold in the 11th game, firing a service winner and keeping the pressure on Djokovic.

World no. 1 cracked under it in the 12th game, finding himself 30-0 down after the Aussie's forehand down the line winner. Novak netted a forehand and offered Aleksandar two set points. Djokovic denied the first with a reliable forehand attack before Vukic converted the second with a forehand return winner, taking the set 7-5 and introducing a decider after an hour and a half.

World no. 69 served first in the final set and held at 30 after Novak's wild forehand. A five-time champion responded with a hold at love in game two after a service winner, leveling the score at 1-1. Djokovic fired a forehand down the line return winner in the third game, creating a break chance.

Aleksandar saved it with a forehand down the line winner before experiencing the second. The Aussie erased it with a forehand winner after a powerful serve and the Serb's short return. Vukic wrapped up the game with an ace, surviving and avoiding an early setback.

Djokovic leveled the score at 2-2 with a hold at 15 after a forehand error from his rival, hoping to create more return chances.

Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Aleksandar played a couple of wrong strokes in the fifth game and offered Novak two break chances.

World no. 1 forced a backhand error from his opponent, earning a break and opening a 3-2 gap. Djokovic confirmed the break with a hold at 30 in game six, moving closer to the finish line. Vukic served well in the seventh game, bringing it home at 15 with a service winner and remaining within one break deficit.

Novak extended the lead to 5-3 with a fine volley attack, forcing Aleksandar to serve to stay in the match. Djokovic made another push on the return in game nine, earning two match points with a forehand winner. He seized the second, delivering another break and moving into the third round.

Novak Djokovic Aleksandar Vukic Indian Wells