Roger Federer has stressed that he is not surprised after Novak Djokovic crashed out in the early stages of the 2018 Indian Wells and the world No.1 has backed the Serbian star to "only get better from here."
The 30-year-old crashed out of the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 of the calendar year following his defeat at the hands of Taro Daniel. The American-born Japanese player won the first set on a tie-breaker, before losing the second set 6-4 to Djokovic.
However, Daniel bounced back as he won the third set comfortably to clinch the match. The final score was 7-6, 4-6, 6-1. It was the former world No.1's first match since returning from an injury, which forced him to undergo a surgery earlier in February.
Djokovic bowed out to South Korean Chung Hyeon in the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open. Following his exit in Melbourne, it was the 12-time Grand Slam winner's first appearance at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.
Federer stressed it was always going to be difficult for the six-time Australian winner to impress on his return from injury, which is why the 36-year-old was not surprised following Djokovic's struggle in Indian Wells.
"To me, it's not that surprising. When you go away from the game for over a two-month period, it starts feeling a little bit that way," the Express quoted Federer as saying.
"When you do come back from injury or when you haven't played in a long time, it just takes extra effort. It is still early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. He's only going to get better from here."
Meanwhile, Federer progressed to Round of 32 of the ongoing ATP Masters event in California. He surpassed Argentine Federico Delbonis after rain forced the Swiss tennis star a victory to wait until next morning on Sunday to clinch his first win of the tournament.