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"Dreams Can Be True": Luca Nardi Talks Historic Djokovic Upset
3 Min Read · March 12, 2024

The day after the night before, Luca Nardi was a man in demand.

An interview beckoned with an Italian TV station, while some fans later wandering around the grounds at the BNP Paribas Open blurted out, “We talked to Nardi!”

All that was understandable since he upset 24-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic on Monday evening — and that as a lucky loser.


The 20-year-old admitted that he didn’t sleep much afterwards — about three or four hours — and was still coming to grips Tuesday with beating his idol in three sets. 

At times in the third-round clash, fans even chanted his name.

“For sure, I will keep (this) for the rest of my life,” Nardi told on a terrace dedicated to media at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

Congratulations came from far and wide.

“I got so many messages,” he said. “But I tried to just answer my close friends and family because I don’t want to be focused on other things, just on tennis. But, yes, for sure I got many messages.”

At No. 123, he became the lowest-ranked player to ever beat Djokovic at a regular-season Masters event.

He won’t be outside the Top 100 for long, though. 

Not only did beating Djokovic give Nardi the moment of his professional life, but it also ensured a Top 100 debut when the new rankings are released Monday.

Yes, another Italian in the Top 100.

The hottest player in tennis is countryman Jannik Sinner, who carried a 17-match winning streak into his fourth-round tussle Tuesday with Ben Shelton. Sinner ended Djokovic’s reign in Australia this year, while another of the younger guard, Lorenzo Musetti, toppled him on clay last year.

Nardi has drawn inspiration from the pair, especially Sinner.

“I’m working very hard to see what Jannik and Lorenzo, and Jannik for sure, what he is doing,” said Nardi. “It’s something that pushed me to be better. I had the chances to play with him, practice with him, so I can learn from him also. And I hope that I can join him in these tournaments.”

“For me yesterday, I was just trying to enjoy the game. I was not trying to think that on the other side there was Novak Djokovic. I was just trying to focus on what I had to do. In some points, I didn’t have much fear.”

Another big test awaits the native of Pesaro, Italy on the Adriatic Coast.

He’ll have to refocus, and refocus against a Grand Slam semifinalist in North Carolina native Tommy Paul

It’s a first head-to-head, as it was when Nardi encountered Djokovic.

Paul, ranked No. 17, has been in good form in recent weeks, Indian Wells included.  He hasn’t dropped a set in his two matches against a surging Ugo Humbert and the fast rising American teen, Alex Michelsen

Maybe his older brother, Niccolo, will be watching back home. Nardi started to play because of his sibling at around the age of seven. He was reared on clay, but more hard courts in Italy and Sinner’s success  — and let’s not forget Matteo Berrettini, a Wimbledon finalist — means it isn’t only about the red dirt anymore.

Nardi decided to pursue tennis as a profession at the later age of 16, according to the ATP. He is proving to be a quick study.

“In every sport, in every job, if you believe in what you do, dreams can be true,” said Nardi.

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