Back in February, the 14-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz Garfia had qualified for the Spain F5 Futures main draw, scoring two wins to reach the quarters and become the first player born in 2003 who has won ATP point and carved his name on the ATP rankings list.
On July 2, Alcarez Garfia will get the company on the list, with the super talented Italian Luca Nardi winning his first professional match at Italy F15 Futures in Sassuolo on Wednesday to become the second player fro the 2003 generation who won the match on a pro circuit. Born in August 2003, Nardi has been one of the best players of his generation, winning his first U12 title in 2015 in Padova and adding two more in the U14 category in 2016, still at the age of 12! At the beginning of the last season, Luca conquered Les Petits As Mondial Lacoste, the biggest event in the world for U14 players, beating Hamad Medjedovic in the title match, and he was almost unbeatable during the season, winning the U14 title in Pavia and his first ITF junior crown in Tirana as a qualifier, playing only his second event in the oldest category.
Nardy conquered another title at home in Italy, the U16 International Tournament Citta' Di Crema, before losing to Medjedovic in the semi-final of the U14 European Junior Championships and to Alcaraz Garfia in the semis of the U16 Sanchez-Casal Youth Cup.
The Italian wrapped up a season with a title at the Tennis Europe Junior Masters in Reggio Calabria and he was victorious at the start of 2018 as well, winning ITF junior tournament in Siroki Brijeg and losing in the final at the same place a week later.
Another title came at the Grade 4 ITF Junior FTT Tunisia event and he is currently the fifth best junior born in 2003, right below Alcaraz Garfia. Luca decided to make another big step in his young career this week and try to qualify for his first professional tournament at Italy F15 Futures in Sassuolo, winning one match before losing to Alessandro Coppini 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 47 minutes.
A twist in the tale came when some players had to withdraw from the main draw, clearing space for Nardi to make a professional debut at the age of 14! The first rival of the young Italian was Bastian Malla, winner of six Futures titles and a former Top 400 player.
Just a month ago, Malla won Futures crown in Italy but Luca took care to prevent something like that here in Sassuolo, scoring a historic 6-7 6-1 6-4 triumph in two hours and two minutes for his first professional win and the place on the ATP rankings list as the youngest ranked player in the world! Luca served at only 51% but he managed to get the most from it, facing only five break points and suffering three breaks of serve.
He easily compensated that with an impressive return game, creating 15 chances and earning six breaks of serve to dominate in sets two and three. Malla failed to defend his second serve as he would have wanted and he couldn't keep the pace with his much younger and inexperienced rival from the baseline, dropping six games in a row at some point.
Luca made a dream start, breaking Bastian in the opening game of the match and holding in game two to cement his lead. Carried by this early momentum, Nardi held everything under control in his games and he moved 5-2 ahead with another break in game seven, serving for the set in the following game.
He led 40-0 when Malla started his marvelous comeback, saving all three set points to pull one break back and fending off another set point on the return in game 10 to set up a tie break. He had the drive on his side and the breaker was in his hands, taking it 7-4 to complete a great comeback and increase his chances against the shaken opponent.
In fact, Nardi should have been shaken but he is obviously not a regular 14-year-old boy, bouncing back in set number two to rattle off five straight games for a 6-1, breaking Malla in games for and six before finishing the job in game seven with a hold at love to send the match into a decider (he lost just four points on serve in the entire set).
There, they traded breaks in the opening two games and Luca grabbed another one in game seven for a 4-3 lead, moving closer to the finish line. The youngster had to show a character of a champion once again in the following game, saving two break points to extend his lead to 5-3 and bringing the match home with a good hold in game 10 for the place in the second round and his first ATP point.