Novak Djokovic Upset by ‘Lucky Loser’ Luca Nardi in Shocking Indian Wells Defeat

In a stunning turn of events at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Novak Djokovic found himself outplayed by the world’s 123rd ranked player, Luca Nardi. The Italian athlete clinched a remarkable victory with scores of 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Monday, leaving spectators and fans alike in awe.

Nardi’s journey to this point was nothing short of cinematic. Initially, he had fallen in the qualifying rounds to David Goffin but was later given a second chance through a ‘lucky loser’ spot. This opportunity is reserved for players who didn’t make it through the qualifying rounds but are selected to replace injured players withdrawing before the tournament begins. Seizing this unexpected chance, Nardi demonstrated his prowess by first defeating Zhang Zhizhen in the second round before facing off against Djokovic.

This victory over Djokovic wasn’t just another win; it etched Nardi’s name in the history books. According to the ATP, he became the lowest-ranked player to defeat Djokovic in either an ATP Masters 1000 or a Grand Slam event. Moreover, at just 20 years old, Nardi is now the fourth lowest-ranked player to overcome a reigning world No. 1 at a Masters 1000 event.

Following the match, Djokovic didn’t shy away from expressing his disappointment in his performance, while also acknowledging Nardi’s deserved win. “He got in as a lucky loser to the main draw, so he really didn’t have anything to lose, and he played great. Deserved to win. I was more surprised with my level. My level was really, really bad,” Djokovic reflected.

This tournament marked Djokovic’s first competitive appearance since his defeat by another young Italian talent, 22-year-old Jannik Sinner, in the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. Despite a challenging start against Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic in California, Djokovic couldn’t find his rhythm against Nardi.

The match was a rollercoaster, with Nardi taking the first set, Djokovic bouncing back in the second, but ultimately, it was Nardi who maintained his momentum in the decider. Djokovic fought hard, saving three break points early in the third set, but Nardi’s break in the sixth game was the turning point, leading to his victory in two hours and 20 minutes.

Reflecting on his performance in 2024, Djokovic shared his concerns, “No titles this year. That’s not something I’m used to. I was starting the season most of my career with a Grand Slam win or a Dubai win or any tournament,” he said. Despite the setbacks, Djokovic remains hopeful, “It is part of the sport. You just have to accept it. Some you win; some you lose. Hopefully, I’ll win some more and still keep going.”

Nardi, on the other hand, is still processing his incredible achievement. “I don’t know [how I held my nerve],” he admitted. “I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy.” He hopes his performance has made an impression, “I think that before this night no one knew me. I hope that the crowd enjoyed the game. I’m super happy with this one.”

As Nardi prepares to face the US’ Tommy Paul in the next round, his victory over Djokovic is a testament to the unpredictable and thrilling nature of tennis, where anything can happen, and new stars can emerge in the most unexpected moments.