He went down 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-1 to the Japanese qualifier in the second-round match, leaving the 30 year-old to lament a disjointed performance.
On his highly-anticipated return to the tour after right elbow surgery, Djokovic looked a shadow of his former self.
As his form began to dip at the end of 2016, Djokovic admitted that he had been affected by off-court issues that he hasn't elaborated on.
"But. I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly". "I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything".
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Djokovic - who benefited from a bye in the first round - relinquished a 5-2 lead in the first set and wound up committing 61 unforced errors.
"It felt like the first match I have ever played on the tour, very weird", the 12-times grand slam champion told reporters. The Swiss Master is trying to successfully retain his Indian Wells title.
"Nerves were there. I made so many unforced errors".
Roger Federer completed a rain-delayed debut match at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Federico Delbonis of Argentina. Djokovic who had been out of action for nearly two months after his defeat against Korean Chung at the Australian Open had taken the second half of 2017 off to heal from an elbow injury. That has always been a rock solid shot for me throughout my career.
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"It's been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day", Federer said. "But that's, I guess, it's all part of those particular circumstances that I'm in at the moment".
The defeat marked just the fifth time in the past decade when Djokovic lost to a player outside the ATP top 100. "But I recovered very quickly, and I got myself ready".
Among the other losers on Sunday were Germany's Alexander Zverev, who lost to Portugal's Joao Sousa 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, and American John Isner, who was defeated by France's Gael Monfils 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5 in a gripping match, in which both players struck a total of 23 aces.
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