It is anticipated that Novak Djokovic, who has been absent for five years, will lead a group of the world’s top tennis players back to Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open next month.
The tournament’s entry list was made public on Wednesday and features Djokovic, the 24-time Grand Slam champion and top-ranked men’s player in the sport. He has won the Indian Wells Open five times.
At Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the 2024 BNP Paribas Open will take place from March 3–17.
In addition to Novak Djokovic, the top four players in the world are completed by 2024 Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner, last year’s BNP Paribas Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, who won the Indian Wells tournament last year.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is also anticipated to make an appearance at Indian Wells this year after being sidelined by injury the previous year. After tearing a muscle in Brisbane in January, Rafael Nadal, 37, made his World Tour comeback this week in Doha. On a protected ranking, Nadal will be given automatic entry into the BNP Paribas Open.
A group of Americans that includes Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Ben Shelton, Chris Eubanks, Sebastian Korda, and Mackenzie McDonald—all of whom are presently ranked in the top 50—will be led by American Taylor Fritz, the 2022 Indian Wells champion.
In addition to Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev, Holger Rune, Hubert Hurkacz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and past BNP champion Cam Norrie, other prominent and highly ranked men in the lineup include three-time Slam winner Andy Murray, who is making his 16th visit to Indian Wells.
Aryna Sabalenka, who just won the Australian Open, is rated second, and 2022 champion Iga Świątek is ranked first in the women’s division. Along with third-ranked and 2023 U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff and fourth-ranked Jessica Pegula, the defending BNP Paribas Open champion Elena Rybakina is in the lineup.
Upon entering Indian Wells, Gauff and Pegula would be the first American women ranked in the top four since Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams entered the tournament in 2001, with the latter two looking to end a protracted drought for American players in the women’s singles category.
Currently 43 years old, Williams has expressed her desire to play at Indian Wells this year and is still actively involved in the game. The tournament won’t reveal wild card entries until later this month, so she would need one to accomplish it. In 2019, Williams made his BNP Paribas Open debut.
This year, after taking a year off to focus on her daughter’s pregnancy, who was born on July 7, fans can also anticipate seeing four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka return to Indian Wells. Nadal and Osaka will both automatically be ranked in a protected category.
Along with other highly rated ladies hoping for a BNP breakthrough, such as Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur, and Karolina Muchova, Qinwen Zheng, the breakout star who is currently ranked No. 7 in the world after reaching the Australian Open final, will be someone to watch.
Former champions Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka, along with top 50 American players Madison Keys, Emma Navarro, Sloane Stephens, and Sofia Kenin, will round up the women’s tournament. Angelique Kerber, who missed 2023 due to maternity leave, will also be heading back to the desert, much like Osaka.
It’s also the first time Novak Djokovic, 36, has missed Indian Wells. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, which first shut down much of the world and almost every sporting event for several weeks, the 2020 event was canceled on the eve of the opening day.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the 2021 BNP Paribas Open was rescheduled for October of that year. Djokovic chose not to travel to the California desert for the tournament, which also included tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
For the 2022 tournament, Djokovic was unable to go to the United States because of a travel ban for foreign nationals who had not received the COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, Djokovic requested an exception to the rule, which remained in effect until May 11th, but he ultimately withdrew just before the competition began.
Since 2019, Djokovic has not participated in the Sunshine Double, which consists of the Miami Open and Indian Wells. After the U.S. Open, Indian Wells and Miami are the two biggest American events.
With victories in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016, Djokovic is notable for having the greatest career victory percentage (84.75%) at Indian Wells.
With 20 straight victories from 2014 to 2017, Djokovic also created a tournament record. This year, he has a strong chance of breaking every significant career record he does not currently have.
Winners of the qualification event from March 3–5 and beneficiaries of wild cards, who will be revealed in the upcoming weeks, will occupy the remaining seats in the draw aside from the best players in the world.