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Lucas Nardi Overthrows Novak Djokovic in a Thrilling Third-Round Match at Indian Wells

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The feat of defeating Djokovic at a Masters 1000 or a Grand Slam event has been achieved by none other than the 123rd ranked player, Nardi – making it the lowest ranking at which Djokovic has been defeated. 

In a jaw-dropping turn of events at the Indian Wells tournament, twenty-year-old Italian, Luca Nardi, claimed the limelight with his 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over tennis stalwart, Novak Djokovic, during the tournament’s third round. This is easily one of the biggest surprises we’ve witnessed this year. 

Now let’s understand the significance of this victory: Nardi, ranked 123rd, has not only made history but has also set a new record. He’s the lowest-ranked player to ever bring down heavy-hitter Djokovic at a Masters 1000 or a Grand Slam! 

For Nardi, this feat is not just a win – it’s a milestone! This peripheral player had only recently scored his first Top 50 win at the Indian Wells, defeating the 50th ranked Zhang Zhizhen from China just two days before his iconic victory over Djokovic. 

Unsurprisingly, during his on-court interview, Nardi was prompted to share how he handled the enormous pressure of going toe-to-toe with one of the most celebrated players in the history of tennis.

“I don’t know man, really I don’t know,” he replied.

“I think this is a miracle, because I’m a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world and beating Novak. So crazy, crazy.”

In an exhilarating match that spanned two hours and 20 minutes on a Monday evening, top seeded tennis player Djokovic faced his competitor fiercely. He produced a stunning performance, delivering twice the number of winning shots as his opponent, a 24-time Grand Slam champion, tallying at 36 against the latter’s 18. His spectacular forehand shots were notably the highlight of the match, contributing to 21 out of his 36 winners.

“I think that before this night no one knew me,” he said. “I hope the crowd enjoyed the game, and I’m super happy with this one.”

The 20-year-old Nardi has had a poster of Djokovic on his bedroom door since he was eight years old.

The young Nardi, at the age of 20, has admired Djokovic enough to have had a poster of him on his bedroom door since he was merely an eight-year-old boy. 

While his official ATP bio reveals Roger Federer as his ultimate tennis icon, Nardi held Djokovic in equally high regard—a testament being the Djokovic poster on his bedroom door that has been there since his tender age of eight. 

Setting his admiration aside, Nardi stormed the court on Monday night, pulling off the first break of the match in the fifth game, leading 3-2, and then maintaining that lead until he secured the first set. 

The initial breaks in the second set were balanced, but soon Djokovic clawed back another break, leading 4-2. They managed to hold their serves until a third set became inevitable. The pendulum swung back in Nardi’s favor during the decider as he broke for 4-2 and held his nerve until the end. To put the icing on the cake, he wrapped up the match with two consecutive winners—a forehand volley winner to bring up match point, followed by a brilliant ace on the deuce side to clinch the match. 

Despite Djokovic winning a higher number of points in the match—93 compared to Nardi’s 92—it all boiled down to break points. Nardi may not have had the best conversion rate, but his extra break (3/11 against Djokovic’s 2/4) proved to be the decisive factor.

In a surprising turn of events, Djokovic could not muster his usual magic on the court, ending the game with a disheartening 18 winners to 31 unforced errors. 

As a five-time champion at the Indian Wells Masters in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and holder of 40 Masters 1000 titles, it was evident that Djokovic wasn’t playing up to his usual standard. He ended the game with a rather bleak tally of 18 winners as compared to 31 unforced errors. This count included poor scores on his typically powerful groundstrokes: 11 to 17 on the forehand, and 3 to 13 on the backhand. 

This unexpected performance led to the worst loss in Djokovic’s career at a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam event, measured in terms of ranking. His earlier worst came in 2008 at Miami, where he was defeated by the No. 122-ranked Kevin Anderson. 

But don’t be too quick to discount Djokovic – this was only his first tournament since the Australian Open. And he has a chance to reclaim his glory at the upcoming Masters 1000 in Miami. He’s no stranger to victory there having won six times before in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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James Ewen

James Ewen brings a fresh voice to tennis journalism with his enthusiastic approach and keen observations. As a lifelong fan and avid player, James translates his love for the game into compelling stories and analyses, connecting with readers by sharing both the triumphs and challenges of tennis.

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