Born in August 2003, the Italian Luca Nardi has been one of the most talented and promising players of his generation (read more about him in our previous article HERE) and he has won numerous titles in the various junior categories to make a name for himself and improve his game on regular basis. This 14-year-old boy has already won three U18 ITF junior tournaments and he felt ready to make his professional debut this week at Italy F15 Futures in Sassuolo, losing in the second qualifying round.
Nonetheless, tennis gods had additional plans for Luca as he entered the main draw as a lucky loser, playing his first pro match against Bastian Malla. Luca proved his class and talent to overcome the first set loss and grab the first pro win, becoming the second player of his generation who achieved that after the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, and he will be the youngest player with the ATP ranking on July 2.
Alcaraz Garfia reached the quarters on his debut and Nardi followed his footsteps, scoring another win on Thursday to enter the last eight at such a young age. Luca needed two hours and 32 minutes to overpower another lucky loser Louroi Martinez 6-7 6-3 6-2, battling from a set down for the second day in a row to continue his dream run in Sassuolo. The youngster served at only 50% but just like against Malla he played marvelous tennis in the big moments, saving 10 out of 12 break points to keep the pressure on his rival.
The Swiss did win the opening set but he couldn't keep the pace with Luca in the rest of the match, suffering six breaks from 11 chances he gave to Nardi to lose ground in sets two and three. Nardi saved two break points in the opening game of the match to make an important hold but Louroi broke him at love in game three to gain the advantage.
The Italian broke back in game six and he fends off two break points at 5-5 to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. From 4-2 up in the tie break, Nardi lost the next three points and Martinez won the last two points at 6-6 to steal the breaker 8-6 in just under an hour.
Luca stayed focused, making a fresh start in set number two with a break at 15 and he saved three break points in game two to forge the advantage. The youngster moved 4-1 ahead with another break in game five before losing his serve in the following game to keep up a 4-2 lead.
Luca held the match in his hands now, dominating in the rallies to score another break in game nine that delivered the set for him, building the momentum before the decider. The Swiss wasted a break point at the start of the final set and two more in game three, which would cost him a lot in the rest of the set.
Luca held at love in game five and he made the crucial move in the following game with a break that pushed him 4-2 up, cementing his win with another break in game eight that earned the place in the quarters for him. Nardi will now face the 3rd seed Peter Heller from Germany but he already did enough to celebrate an amazing week, earning the first ATP points and making his first steps on the Pro Tour, where he should be among the leading players in the future.