Making his ATP World Tour return after a spell out with injury, Djokovic slumped to a shock defeat against Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.
Meanwhile, World No. 1 Roger Federer qualified for the Round of 32 with a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Argentina's Federico Delbonis.
Djokovic revealed he felt nervous out on court, describing his mindset as "very weird". "I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything".
In his first tournament since the Australian open, Djokovic was shown the way home in his very first match. He had surgery in Switzerland shortly after that.
"I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly but, at the same time, just didn't feel good at all".
Djokovic scrambled to win the second set on March 11 but the rust from the layoff was evident as he made 62 unforced errors overall.
"Whereas, here, now you play the same guy the next day, so you can really compare how different conditions are". "The question marks surrounding his defeat today will only grow larger", Courier said during his commentary on the match. Last month, Djokovic underwent another surgery on the same elbow, with hopes of returning to his best closer to the European claycourt and grasscourt seasons. But you put extra effort to manage all that's happening in your head.
The match was carried over from Saturday after rain force play to end early with Federer one set up and the scores locked at 2-2 in the second.
The top seed fended off a set point in the tiebreak to beat Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (6). 'It is interesting when you go from night to day and you play a different opponent you never - you know there is a difference, but you also know there is a difference in opponent, and he plays different', Federer said.
"In the night-time, the ball is much more deader". The surface doesn't react so much.
Daniel, who is ranked 109th in the world, advanced to the third round where he will face Gael Monfils of France.
She defeated Bertens 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.
"To me, it's not that surprising", the defending champion said in California.
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