"Hot-headed" Novak Djokovic contemplates Miami after the Indian Wells setback

Novak Djokovic fell to Luca Nardi in the third round in Indian Wells

by Jovica Ilic
"Hot-headed" Novak Djokovic contemplates Miami after the Indian Wells setback
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic returned to Indian Wells for the first time in five years, seeking his sixth title in the desert. However, Novak could not chase the trophy following a tough 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 loss to the 20-year-old Luca Nardi in the third round!

World no. 123 stunned a 24-time Major winner, keeping Novak without an ATP title in 2024. Djokovic has yet to decide whether he will play in Miami, having to cool down a bit and think about his next move. The Serb lost in the Australian Open semi-final to Jannik Sinner and took five weeks off, recharging batteries ahead of the first Masters 1000 event of the season.

However, Djokovic did not play well in the desert, beating Aleksandar Vukic in three sets in the second round before falling to Nardi after a pale performance for his standards.

Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak asked for a stomach pill and could not use the momentum from the second set, struggling in the decider and allowing Luca to secure a career-best victory against his idol.

The Serb won one point more than the Italian. Still, he failed to build the advantage in the pivotal moments, delivering two breaks from only four break chances and suffering three breaks from 11 opportunities presented to the young gun.

Nardi attacked and fired 36 winners and 41 unforced errors. Djokovic stood on an 18-31 ratio, forging the advantage in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes but losing ground in the more advanced ones. The opening set saw a single break point, and Nardi seized it in the fifth game to forge the advantage.

The young Italian fired two service winners at deuce in the second game of the encounter, notching his first game against the legend. They closed games three and four with powerful serves before Novak experienced issues at 2-2 after leading 40-15.

Luca climbed back and earned a break point after Novak's forehand error. The young gun pulled the trigger and fired a forehand winner to deliver a break and gain the advantage after 23 minutes. Luca served well in games six and eight, maintaining the lead and keeping the pressure on Novak.

World no. 1 served to stay in the set in game nine and closed it after the rival's backhand error, reducing the deficit to 5-4.

Luca Nardi, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Luca Nardi stunned Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells.

Nardi showed no sign of nerves while serving for the set in game ten, opening it with a volley winner and landing an unreturned serve for 6-4 after 44 minutes and a massive boost.

Djokovic outplayed his rival in the shortest rallies in the second set. Also, he found the rhythm on the return, delivering two breaks and forcing a decider. Novak climbed back from 0-40 in the second game and painted a volley winner for his first break chance of the match.

Luca sprayed a backhand error and pushed a five-time champion 2-0 in front. Instead of building on that, Djokovic struggled behind the initial shot in the third game, facing five break points and losing serve after a questionable call as he and Nardi stopped the action.

Luca Nardi & Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Luca locked the result at 2-2 with an unreturned serve, and Novak followed that in the next one. Djokovic created a break point in game six after Nardi's double fault and attacked with his forehand, causing the rival's mistake and opening a 4-2 gap.

World no. 1 cemented the break with a hold at love in game seven and created two set points on the return at 5-2. Nardi saved them with brave hitting and forced Djokovic's mistake to prolong the set. Novak made a fresh start at 5-3, earning set points with a service winner and seizing the first with a backhand winner at the net, introducing a decider after an hour and 33 minutes.

Luca grabbed the first game with a forehand drive-volley winner and earned three break chances in the next one. Novak denied them and held after 12 and a half minutes for 1-1, giving everything to prolong the battle. The young gun thought about those chances only briefly, firing an ace in the third game and holding for 2-1.

Djokovic clinched the fourth game with a service winner, hoping for some return chances. Instead, Luca opened a 3-2 gap with a smash winner and made a decisive move on the return a few minutes later. Novak sprayed a costly forehand error and faced three break points.

Luca Nardi & Novak Djokovic, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nardi converted the second after attacking from his backhand, opening a 4-2 lead and moving closer to a surprise.

The 20-year-old cemented the break with a service winner in game seven, with Djokovic serving to stay in the match at 2-5. Novak held at love, reducing the deficit and having one more chance to prolong the battle. Nardi served for the win at 5-3 and did not allow any setbacks, firing two winners at 15-15 for two match points.

The Italian landed an ace on the first, earning a career-best victory and booking a place in the fourth round despite falling to David Goffin in the second qualifying round! "We will see about Miami. I left the court ten minutes ago, and I'm still hot-headed. I need a day or two to figure out what would be the best," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Indian Wells Luca Nardi