Novak Djokovic's struggles continue with Indian Wells defeat

Roger Federer Indian Wells

GETTYFederer took shelter while he waited for the rain to pass

Stephens, who won her first major at Flushing Meadows last fall, lost in the first rounds at the Australian Open and in Sydney before reaching the quarterfinals at Acapulco.

"We wondered post surgery what it was going to look like, how his elbow was going to react to the strain and stress, but it was his heart and head that didn't react the right way in this match". Djokovic even admitted that he lacked rhythm in the game.

Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon past year and returned at January's Australian Open, where he lost in the fourth round. I just completely lost rhythm, everything.

"I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly but at the same time just didn't feel good at all", he added.

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Now, a year older at 36, he has to decide again, though with so many top rivals ailing, might he be tempted to make one more push for another French Open a second Career Slam?

Frenchman Gael Monfils survived a match point before beating big-serving American 15th seed John Isner 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5. "So talking about faster, I just think there is more bounce to it, especially if you play someone who has a lot of spin like he has and kicks the ball around a lot".

Federer, who already has two titles in 2018 after victories in Australia and Rotterdam, took the first set 6-3 against Argentina's Federico Delbonis in just under 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, Kei Nishikori pulled out ahead of his opening match due to illness.

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Djokovic will now be hoping for a better showing at the next ATP Masters event he is scheduled to play in a few days time, the Miami Open. Federer, who earned his fifth title at Indian Wells past year, saved a set point in the second-set tiebreaker and advanced to face Filip Krajinovic on Monday.

His title defence got off to a soggy start Saturday night when play was suspended because of rain showers with Federer up a set and tied 2-2 in the second. Also losing was No. 12 Julia Goerges of Germany, 6-3, 6-3 to No. 21 Anastasjia Sevastova of Latvia. The 10th seed in the women's draw.

The only thing rarer than a raindrop in the Southern California desert might be a Roger Federer early-round loss, and thankfully for fans, the weekend brought only one of those anomalies.

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