HomeTennisNovak Djokovic suffers meltdown during upset Indian Wells defeat

Novak Djokovic suffers meltdown during upset Indian Wells defeat


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Novak Djokovic has suffered a complete meltdown during one of the worst defeats of his long career.

Djokovic was featuring at Indian Wells, the event widely dubbed as tennis’ fifth major, for the first time since 2019, hoping to add a record sixth trophy from the prestigious event to his bulging collection.

Instead, the world No. 1 bowed out in the third round in an all-time shocker against world No. 123 Luca Nardi, succumbing 6-4 3-6 6-3 in 2 hours, 20 minutes on court.

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Not only is Nardi the lowest ranked player to beat the Serbian great at grand slam or Masters 1000 level, the Italian actually lost in qualifying and only made the main draw as a lucky loser.

The 20-year-old, who beat China’s Zhang Zhizhen in the second round after his first-round bye, was understandably beaming after the match.

“I think that before this night no one knew me,” he said after just his fifth Tour-level victory.

“I hope that the crowd enjoyed the game. I’m super happy with this one.”

Apart from the monumental upset, the main talking point of the match came when Djokovic was serving up 2-0 in the second set.

The 36-year-old already seemed out of sorts, regularly berating himself and someone in the crowd, but the next service game pushed him over the edge as it lasted more than 12 minutes.

Djokovic was making an uncharacteristic number of errors, particularly on the forehand side, but was able to stave off a succession of break points.

After a backhand error, Djokovic faced another break point and sent down a second serve that Nardi appeared to think was out and briefly paused, before continuing to play the point.

Djokovic then stalled himself hitting a drop shot, which the Italian hit across court for a winner with the Serbian standing still at centre court in disbelief.

“Well what on Earth, why has Djokovic suddenly stopped there?” the commentator asked.

That’s when the fireworks began for the 24-time grand slam champion, who commenced a whole new rally with veteran chair umpire Greg Allensworth.

“He hit the ball and he stopped. He stopped,” Djokovic said to the umpire.

“He reacted to the call, he didn’t make the call, he didn’t actually stop the point,” Allensworth replied.

“Just because he stops doesn’t mean the point stops.”

Djokovic clearly didn’t take kindly to that assertion.

“Just because he stops doesn’t mean the point stops?” Djokovic repeated. “What’re you talking about?

“You see that reaction, he stopped. He literally stopped and that’s it and he confused me completely and I stopped as well.

“How can you not make that judgement? Are you kidding me or what?”

Allensworth then tried to understand what Djokovic was seeking.

“Are you wanting me to call a hindrance?” he asked.

“Of course because he stopped. The guy stopped and he played a ball like this and he stopped,” he replied.

“Just because he stands there and doesn’t continue to play doesn’t mean … that’s not grounds for a hindrance,” Allensworth replied.

After the umpire said he understood Djokovic’s point, the Serbian shot back “what is your point” before the American calmly laid out his stance.

“My point is that’s not grounds for him to lose the point,” he said.

“If he would’ve come up saying ‘out’ or pointing out or something along those lines then yes, I would agree with you 100 per cent.

“But since he didn’t do anything to actually stop the point.”

The umpire didn’t finish his sentence before Djokovic just offered a short smirk and walked back to his chair.

One of the commentators also expressed his feelings after the exchange.

“He hasn’t got a leg to stand on I’m afraid,” they said.

“He’s fighting a losing battle there.”

While Nardi broke back courtesy of that moment, Djokovic broke again in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead and served out the set.

Nardi then broke serve in the sixth game of the deciding set and held his nerve the rest of the way for the huge upset.

The Italian youngster is the fourth lowest ranked player ever to beat a world No. 1 and the third sub-100 player to ever beat Djokovic.

It is only Djokovic’s second tournament of 2024 and he has now lost to two straight Italians, following his loss to eventual champion Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-finals.

“Congrats to him for particularly in the third set playing some great, great tennis,” Djokovic said after the match.

“He got in as a lucky loser to the main draw, so he really didn’t have anything to lose, he played great and deserved to win.

“I was more surprised with my level. My level was really, really bad. That’s it, you know – these two things come together. He’s having a great day; I’m having a really bad day. Results as a negative outcome for me.”

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