Historic bell in Indian Wells: Djokovic, dropped by world number 123

20 years old and a lucky loser (he had fallen in the previous), Luca Nardi (no.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 March 2024 Monday 10:31
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Historic bell in Indian Wells: Djokovic, dropped by world number 123

20 years old and a lucky loser (he had fallen in the previous), Luca Nardi (no. 123) gave a historic shock this Monday by eliminating the Serbian Novak Djokovic (no. 1) in the third round of the Masters 1,000 in Indian Wells. He starred in one of the great surprises on the circuit in recent years.

The young Italian beat Djokovic, five-time champion of this tournament, 6-4, 3-6 and 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes, thus becoming the fourth lowest-ranked player to beat a world number one. world. The record belongs to the Spanish Pato Clavet, who beat the Australian Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 in Miami.

Djokovic came to this event after a hard-fought victory against the Australian Aleksandar Vukic, which allowed him to reach 400 wins in his career in the 1,000 Masters. It was the world number one's first participation since 2019 in the Californian desert and he said goodbye to the considered fifth Grand Slam at the first opportunity. He missed the previous editions due to the coronavirus pandemic and later not complying with the vaccination requirements.

Nardi had only won three matches throughout his short ATP career. He had lost in the second round of the qualifying phase against the Belgian David Goffin, but entered the main draw as a lucky loser, advancing directly to the second round, in which he beat the Chinese Zhizhhen Zhang.

Djokovic had an appointment on paper that was very accessible a priori, but he ran into a Nardi who managed to compete without worries and who played tennis at a very high level in front of one of his idols. But the Balkan, despite losing the first set, had put the match downhill again after tying 6-2 in the second. He had to work at the start, but broke in the fifth game and forced his way to equalize. He had regained momentum and had put pressure on an opponent who only had fifteen matches of experience on the ATP circuit.

However, on the track the Italian remained very focused and did not give in to the tension. What's more, he hit up to twelve winners in the opening of the final set and only allowed two to Djokovic.

The Serb annulled three break points in the second game, but gave up serve in the sixth, when Nardi took the lead 0-40 and completed the break at 15-40 to escape 4-2. He had the mental strength to consolidate it, despite facing a 0-30 in the following game, and sealed the most important victory of his career by a definitive 6-3. He dropped his racket to the floor and walked to the net to shake hands with Djokovic, who congratulated him on the Italian victory.

The Serbian also reproached him for his behavior in the last game, apparently in an unforced error. "Non era giusto" ("It wasn't right"), he told her in Italian, before reiterating her congratulations.

With this victory, Nardi will enter the first hundred positions in the world ranking next Monday. The Italian will play in the round of 16 against the American Tommy Paul, number 19, who beat Frenchman Ugo Humbert this Monday.

This Tuesday will be the time of the Spanish Carlos Alcaraz, number two in the world and defending champion, who will face the Hungarian Fabian Marozsan, 58th in the ranking and against whom he lost in the only precedent between the two in Rome, last year.