Federer backs Djokovic to improve after poor comeback

Grigor Dimitrov bows out in opening match at Indian Wells

KARIM SAHIB AFP

Roger Federer wins yet again this week.

Former world number one Djokovic was playing his first match since the Australian Open due to an elbow problem that required surgery. Djokovic made a comeback after a long period out of the game at the Australian Open. Djokovic pulled out in Melbourne through injury while Edmund reached the semi-finals. Mayer beat Nishikori's replacement Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 6-4, 6-1.

Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon previous year and returned at January's Australian Open, where he lost in the fourth round. But while he may be revitalized physically, as far as we know, the former No. 1 showed plenty of rust in his tour return, which was central to the outcome. Striking his groundstrokes with conviction and refusing to concede the momentum shift, the Japanese would benefit from 22 unforced errors by Djokovic to snatch the opener in a tie-break. With his go-to stroke a sudden liability, the rest of his game fell apart.

He extended his 2018 win streak to 13 matches and has only dropped three sets from 34 played this year.

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Having enjoyed so much success in the California desert by winning five titles, Sunday marked his earliest Indian Wells exit since his debut in 2006.

Lock, who is on a tennis scholarship at UNLV, also revealed how the opportunity to train with the star trio came about and how it has inspired him ahead of his upcoming matches. The combination led to a quick and drama-free conclusion.

"It's very hard, this one, because I grew up with these two guys", he said. "Just didn't feel good at all, nerves were there".

"You're still battling inside of your mind", he added, referencing his recent elbow surgery.

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Djokovic said he felt like it was his "first match" on tour and was unable to explain his opening set stumble or his capitulation in the decider. Fernando Verdasco, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, will play against Taylor Fritz.

As for Djokovic, the question now is whether he will play in Miami later this month.

The top seed fended off a set point in the tiebreak to beat Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (6). Instead, it took 20 hours before a victor was decided.

Roger Federer was pushed by left-handed Argentine Federico Delbonis but won their second-round match at the season's first ATP Masters 1000 event.

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