INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Novak Djokovic will face a qualifier when he returns to action this weekend for the first time since the Australian Open.
In the meantime, he’ll have a few days to take care of a cold he picked up somewhere along the road.
Djokovic, who practiced with South African Kevin Anderson Thursday, sounded pretty congested. You could hear his breathing in that way you can when someone is stuffed up.
And he was blowing his nose enough that he brought tissues with him on the court, in his pocket, for easy access even between games or points.
(Note: this is not an official medical diagnosis. Tennis.Life doesn’t even play a doctor on the web).
It didn’t seem like anything major. Certainly nothing that greatly affected his stamina during practice points.
Here’s what it looked like.
Djokovic’s ranking stands at No. 13, a consequence of his long absence in the second half of 2017 because of a persistent elbow issue. He dropped out of the top 10 in November for the first time since he entered it all the way back in March 2007.
He has played just four matches in 2018, all of them at the Australian Open and underwent what he termed a “small intervention” on his troublesome elbow in early February.
There was no way to know if he could return in time for the two big Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. But here he is, after stopping off to train with mentor Andre Agassi in Las Vegas.
Agassi was not on hand for the practice session Thursday.
The Serb will face the winner of a first-round match between British lefty Cameron Norrie and New York City-born Japanese player Taro Daniel. After that, it could be Kei Nishikori, who was out even longer than Djokovic (he missed the Australian Open as well) with a wrist problem and has watched his ranking fall to No. 25.
Looming further down the road is No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro, a form player coming into Indian Wells after his title in Acapulco last week.
Djokovic is defending only 90 points from his third-round effort at Indian Wells a year ago, and no points from Miami. He withdrew from that tournament a year ago with the elbow issue.