Like Wednesday, rain, so rare in the Californian desert, interrupted the first round matches late in the afternoon. Before that, Venus Williams was able to play her first match since the US Open last summer at the age of 43. She lost in three sets to the Japanese Nao Hibino (2-6, 6-3, 6-0), receiving a standing ovation from the public for what looks like a farewell tour. She is expected in two weeks at the Masters 1000 in Miami. Former Japanese world No.1 Naomi Osaka (26), back on the circuit since January after giving birth to a daughter, defeated Italian Sara Errani (6-3, 6 -1).

She will face Russian Liudmila Samsonova (15th in the world) in the second round. The 64 best players (32 men and 32 women) enter the Indian Wells tables from the second round, played on Friday, with the matches not finished on Thursday and Saturday. ā€œIā€™m happy to come back after five years, time flies so quickly. I hope to have a good tournament,ā€ commented Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic, expected on Saturday, who has not played since his semi-final lost at the Australian Open in January against the Italian Jannik Sinner.