The third-seeded Djokovic beat German star Tommy Haas, formerly ranked in the top 10 in the world, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1) in 1 hour, 47 minutes.
Djokovic, reigning ATP World Tour Finals champ, beat American Mardy Fish in last year's finale here and was the 2007 runner-up to Rafael Nadal.
World No. 6 Argentine Juan Martin del Potro also won Tuesday with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2) two-hour victory over 30th-seeded Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer.
This year's Indian Wells champion will earn $605,500.