In Jannik Sinner's Eyes: Luca Nardi's Win Over Novak Djokovic Inspires Hope

Luca Nardi stunned Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells third round

by Jovica Ilic
In Jannik Sinner's Eyes: Luca Nardi's Win Over Novak Djokovic Inspires Hope
© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The young Italian Luca Nardi produced a shocker in Indian Wells, ousting world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes. Luca entered the draw as a lucky loser, earning his first Masters 1000 win against Zhizhen Zhang and producing a career-best performance against a five-time champion in the third round.

The Australian Open champion and Italy's finest, Jannik Sinner, praised Luca and his performance against Novak. Jannik would love to see more from his young compatriot in the upcoming years, especially if he remains healthy.

Nardi's win over Djokovic was only his fourth on the Tour, ousting his idol following a reliable performance in sets one and three.

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

Novak competed in Indian Wells for the first time in five years, beating Aleksandar Vukic in three sets in the second round before falling to Luca after another shaky performance on the return.

Also, Djokovic took a stomach pill, struggling to produce his A-game and suffering an early loss despite a good performance in set number two. The Serb took one point more than the Italian, but it was not enough to keep him safe after losing ground in the pivotal moments.

Novak delivered two breaks from four chances and lost serve three times from 11 opportunities offered to Luca, struggling to impose his strokes and keep the pressure on his inexperienced rival. Nardi stayed aggressive, firing 36 winners and 41 unforced errors and beating Djokovic's 18-31 ratio.

The young gun had the upper hand in the more extended exchanges, keeping his focus and outplaying world no. 1 in the decider. Luca did not step back in the opening set, defending his second serve efficiently and breaking Novak once for an early advantage.

They served well for 2-2 before Nardi stepped in on the return in game five. Novak played a loose forehand to face a break point, and Luca seized it with a forehand winner, building an early advantage and confidence. The youngster produced a fine hold in the sixth game, moving 4-2 up and delivering another reliable service game for 5-3.

Djokovic reduced the deficit to 5-4 and wished for his first return chance in game ten.

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

Jannik Sinner praised Luca Nardi's performance against Novak Djokovic.

Instead, Nardi opened it with a volley winner and closed the set with a service winner, clinching the opener 6-4 in 44 minutes.

Novak raised his level in the second set, delivering two breaks and forcing a decider after welcoming almost 20 unforced errors from his young opponent. Luca led 40-0 in the second game before spraying errors, losing serve and falling 2-0 behind.

The third game offered the ultimate drama, with the Italian creating five break chances. He converted the last after a questionable call after Novak's serve, with both players stopping the action. Djokovic was unhappy about the decision, but he stayed focused and made another push on the return in game six.

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

Nardi faced a break point after a double fault and handed a break to Djokovic after a forehand error, sending world no.

1 4-2 ahead. Novak held at love in game seven, cementing the lead and creating two set points on the return at 5-2. Nardi saved them with fine hitting, holding and maintaining confidence. Djokovic wrapped up the set with a backhand winner on serve in game nine, forcing a decider and becoming the favorite.

Luca made a fresh start and closed the first game of the final set with a forehand drive-volley winner. The Italian played well on the return in the second game and created three break chances. The Serb showed his mental strength, denying them and holding after 12 minutes to remain on the positive side.

Nardi moved 3-2 in front with a smash winner and stepped in on the return in the next one. The Italian created three break chances and seized the second with a backhand attack, forging a 4-2 lead and moving closer to a stunner.

Not stopping there, Nardi clinched the seventh game with a service winner, opening a 5-2 gap and forcing Djokovic to serve to stay in the match. Novak did everything right in the eighth game, holding at love and reducing the deficit ahead of Luca's pivotal service game.

The 20-year-old served for a career-best victory at 5-3 and landed two winners at 15-15, creating two match points. Luca converted the first with an ace, sealing the deal in style and celebrating an incredible victory at such a young age.

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

"I know Luca quite well. We should have practiced during the off-season, but he twisted his ankle. He is an incredible and talented player with a great team.

He defeated world no. 1 Djokovic, and I'm happy for him. You never know what to expect in those matches, and he beat the world's best player on the first attempt. Hopefully, Luca can keep this pace in the future and stay healthy," Jannik Sinner said.

Jannik Sinner Luca Nardi Novak Djokovic