HomeSportsTennis: Italian 'lucky loser' Luca Nardi hands shock defeat to Novak Djokovic...

Tennis: Italian ‘lucky loser’ Luca Nardi hands shock defeat to Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells – WATCH


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Italian Luca Nardi stunned 24-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3  to win in Indian Wells Round of 32 on Monday (Mar 11). The 20-year-old, with an ATP ranking of 123, is the lowest-ranked player to beat no. 1 Djokovic in ATP Masters 1000 or a grand slam.

Nardi was not supposed to be playing in the tournament after losing in the qualifying round. He entered the main draw after world no. 30 Tomas Martin Etcheverry pulled out of the tournament. Nardi, dubbed an Italian lucky loser, then got a bye in the first round before beating China’s Zhizhen Zhang 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the Round of 64.

In the Round of 32 match, his opponent Djokovic was off-colour at the beginning, visible in the 4-6 loss in the set, but made a solid return in the match by winning the second set 6-3 before losing the third set.

The difference was in break points and the games won during service. Djokovic won 2 out 4 break points while Nardi managed 3 despite putting himself in the position to win 11 break points. As for the service games, Djokovic won one less than Nardi’s 12. 

The Italian was in disbelief after beating Djokovic and said: “I think that before this night no one knew me. I hope that the crowd enjoyed the game. I’m super happy with this one.”

Talking about how he held his nerves in the game, Nardi said: “I don’t know. I think it is a miracle because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy.”

Each of Djokovic’s last two defeats have come against Italians – Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-final earlier this year before losing to Nardi. 

When asked if he takes inspiration from Sinner, Nardi said: For sure I’m watching Jannik winning all the matches. For sure it’s something that pushed me to be better. I didn’t expect to win today, but I always try to do my best in practice, and this happened and I’m really happy.”

Nardi next plays American Tommy Paul for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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