The Poster Boy: Luca Nardi's Incredible Victory Over Novak Djokovic

20-year-old Luca Nardi beat Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells third round

by Jovica Ilic
The Poster Boy: Luca Nardi's Incredible Victory Over Novak Djokovic
© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The 20-year-old Luca Nardi made a name for himself in Indian Wells on Monday night, stunning world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes. Thus, Luca earned the fourth ATP victory of his young career against his idol, keeping Novak's poster on his room's door since the age of eight!

Nardi will keep the poster after beating a 24-time Major winner, looking at it every night before sleeping. Novak played in Indian Wells for the first time since 2019 and did not look like a five-time champion. Djokovic took down Aleksandar Vukic in the second round before falling to Nardi, ending his campaign after only two matches and suffering his third loss of the season.

Novak needed a stomach pill against Luca, not feeling best for the third tournament this year.

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

World no. 1 played well in the second set before losing ground again in the decider, propelling a lucky loser into the fourth round.

Djokovic clinched one point more than Nardi, but not the crucial ones. The Serb struggled on the return like against Jannik Sinner in Melbourne, earning four break points and seizing two in the second set. Nardi created 11 break opportunities and converted three, making a fresh start in the decider and notching a marvelous victory.

The Italian played aggressive tennis and landed 36 winners and 41 unforced errors. The Serb hit 18 winners and 31 mistakes, struggling to impose his strokes and losing ground in the most extended exchanges. It was important for Nardi to make a good start against his idol, and he did that.

The young gun defended his second serve nicely and claimed the set from a single break chance. They served well in the opening four games before Novak faced problems despite a 40-15 lead. Luca stayed competitive and created a break chance after a loose forehand from world no.

1. Nardi converted it with a forehand winner, moving in front and gathering a massive boost. Luca cemented the lead with a fine hold in game six and repeated that two games later for 5-3, keeping the pressure on Novak. The Serb held in the ninth game, prolonging the action and hoping for one last return chance at 4-5.

The Italian produced another fine hold in the pivotal moment, starting with a volley winner and wrapping up the set with a powerful serve for 6-4 after 44 minutes.

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

Luca Nardi stunned his idol Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells.

Novak raised his level in the second set and outplayed Luca in the shortest exchanges, up to four strokes, for the only successful return games and a set.

Luca sprayed almost 20 unforced errors, with a real test in front of him in the decider. Djokovic extended the second game from 0-40 and welcomed Nardi's backhand error for a break and a 2-0 advantage. The third game saw a real drama, with five break points for the Italian.

The 20-year-old seized the last after a questionable call right after Novak's serve, with both players thinking the serve was long. They served well in games four and five before Djokovic made a push at 3-2. Luca faced a break point after a double fault and lost serve after a forced error, pushing Novak 4-2 in front.

Luca Nardi, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Felling well in those moments, Novak produced a hold at love in game seven and earned two set points on the return a few minutes later.

Luca saved them with fine hitting, extending the set and gathering a boost ahead of the decider. Djokovic clinched the second set with a backhand winner at the net at 5-3, hoping for another good run in the final set. The young gun held with a forehand drive-volley winner in the first game and pushed strong on the return a few minutes later, earning three break points.

Novak stayed composed, erasing them and holding after 12 minutes to lock the result at 1-1 and keep battling. They completed the following two games with unreturned serves, and the young gun opened a 3-2 lead with a smash winner in game five, remaining composed and making no errors in his games.

Novak could not follow that pace, spraying a forehand error and facing three break points in game six. Showing no sign of fear and pressure against his idol on the other side of the net, Luca cemented the break with a powerful serve in the seventh game, opening a 5-2 gap and keeping the pressure on world no.


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

Djokovic grabbed the eighth game at love, staying in contention and having one more chance to break Nardi and prolong the battle.

The 20-year-old served in the most critical game of his young career at 5-3 and did not crack under pressure. Luca landed two winners at 15-15 and converted the first match point with an ace, ousting world no. 1 in style and booking a place in the last 16.

"I have Novak's poster on my room's door. I see him every night I go to bed, so I will keep the poster. It's a dream come true for me. I could not even imagine playing against Novak, and now I defeated him," Luca Nardi said.

Luca Nardi Novak Djokovic Indian Wells