WASHINGTON — World No 1 Novak Djokovic will defend his title at the Indian Wells ATP Masters
1 000 hard-court event that begins tomorrow.
The event carries a record prize purse for ATP-WTA events outside majors, including $1 million for the singles champion. The men’s draw contains 96 players, with the seeds getting first-round byes.
Serbian star Djokovic captured Indian Wells as part of a stunning 2011 start of 41 match wins in a row.
Djokovic began 2012 by winning the Australian Open crown, but he lost to Britain’s Andy Murray in last week’s Dubai Open semi-finals.
“Last year was amazing, definitely the best year of my career,” Djokovic said.
“If you ask me if I can repeat it, I don’t know. It’s going to be very, very hard obviously. It’s a new year for me. I look forward to Indian Wells. Events coming up are really important and I need to get ready.”
Djokovic, a five-time Grand Slam champion, who could claim his fourth Slam title in a row by winning the French Open in June, beat Spanish World No 2 Rafael Nadal in the 2011 Indian Wells final and also took the trophy in 2008.
Nadal, the 2007 and 2009 Indian Wells champion, will threaten again, as will three-time Indian Wells winner Roger Federer, the Swiss legend who has won 33 of his past 35 matches and five titles, and Murray.
World No 3 Federer, who has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, beat World No 4 Murray in last week’s Dubai Open final and hopes to bring that momentum to the California desert.
“It’s nice to win a tournament outdoors now,” Federer said. “That gives me hope that I can carry it over to Indian Wells and Miami.”
Murray hopes slower courts at US events in March at Indian Wells and Miami will give him an edge.
“Conditions over in Indian Wells and Miami are going to be very, very different,” Murray said.
“Much slower courts, which hopefully will suit my game a little bit better.” — Supersport