'Gutted': Novak Djokovic's sad announcement stuns tennis world

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Novak Djokovic, pictured here after his loss in the US Open final.
Novak Djokovic looks on after his loss in the US Open final. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has joined a growing list of high-profile withdrawals from next week's Indian Wells event, leaving fans disappointed.

The World No.1 announced on Wednesday that he won't be playing the prestigious event in the California desert.

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“I am sorry I won't get to see my fans in Indian Wells and play in the desert, my favourite place to go,” he tweeted.

“I hope to see you next year!”

Tournament director Tommy Haas said: "We are disappointed that Novak will not be able to join us at the BNP Paribas Open.

“We hope to see him back in Tennis Paradise next March to contend for a record-setting sixth title in the desert."

Djokovic is a five-time winner at Indian Wells, one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar outside of the four grand slams.

The Serbian star hasn't played since his defeat in the final of the US Open earlier this month, where he missed out on his chance to win a record-breaking 21st major title and a calendar year grand slam.

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, pictured here with their trophies after the US Open final.
Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev pose with their trophies after the US Open final. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Djokovic won the Indian Wells title in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, however earlier this year he flagged his intentions to alter his busy schedule in order to spend more time with his family.

"At times it rips my heart apart," Djokovic said about being away from his family after winning the Australian Open in February.

"I will have to revise my schedule comparing to the last year or any other season before this. Obviously time away from family definitely is something that has an impact on me.

"I'll have to see with these rules and regulations and restrictions in place all over the world, Europe.

"Not being able to take my family on the road is something that is a big problem for me."

Fans reacted to Djokovic's announcement with sadness, but many believed it was best for him and his family after a gruelling year.

The tournament in the California desert is taking place from October 4-17 this year after being moved from its traditional slot in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2020 edition of the tournament was cancelled.

Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka also out of Indian Wells

Djokovic's announcement comes after Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka also confirmed their withdrawals this week.

Barty hasn't competed since her shock loss in the third round of the US Open.

She was due to compete for the third time at Indian Wells, but Monday's confirmation that she is pulling out makes it increasingly probable that Barty's successful season is over.

Fellow big names Osaka and Serena Williams will also be missing from the prestigious event.

Osaka is taking a break from tennis after opening up about her mental health struggles at the US Open, while Williams is still recovering form a leg injury she suffered at Wimbledon.

In good news for tournament organisers, newly crowned US Open champion Emma Raducanu has accepted a wildcard invitation to play.

The 18-year-old phenom has risen to World No.22 in the rankings after becoming the first qualifier in tennis history to win a grand slam.

Indian Wells will mark her first WTA match since her extraordinary triumph in New York.

with agencies

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