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Djokovic Stunned: Italian Lucky Loser Luca Nardi Pulls Off Shock Upset
3 Min Read · March 12, 2024

Nardi Becomes Lowest-Ranked Player to Ever Defeat Djokovic at Masters or Grand Slam  

Making his first trip to the California desert since 2019, Novak Djokovic had only one endgame in mind – winning a record sixth BNP Paribas Open title and standing alone atop the tournament’s all-time title list. 

Luca Nardi, a 20-year-old Lucky Loser from Pesaro, Italy, had other ideas. 


Facing a Top 5 opponent for the first time – one who just happens to be a 24-time Major champion – Nardi showed no inhibition as he stunned the World No.1 in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 17 minutes. 

“I’m speechless,” an elated Nardi told the appreciative crowd. “What can I say? Yesterday night I was dreaming about it, I was speaking with the coaches and dreaming about – now it’s real!” 

Last week Nardi lost in the final round of qualifying to David Goffin, but he got the call to enter the draw as a Lucky Loser when Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry pulled out of the draw. 

He made the most of it.

Nardi defeated China’s Zhizhen Zhang in three sets in the second round, but that victory pales in comparison to the stunning upset he pulled on a chilly Monday night in the Coachella Valley. 

The World No.123-ranked Italian becomes the the lowest-ranked player in history to earn a win over Djokovic at a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam event. 

How did Nardi keep his nerve in a tense third set, with Djokovic angling for late heroics? 

“I don’t know,” the Italian said. “Really. I don’t know. I think that this is a miracle because I am a 20-year-old guy, [123]  in the world and beating Novak – crazy!” 

Nardi, making his main draw debut at Indian Wells, was the better player in the opening set, as he parlayed a break of serve in the sixth game into a 6-4 stanza. 

At 2-2 in the second set, after a trade of breaks, Djokovic began to assert himself, winning four of the final five games to force a decider, but the setback did not quiet Nardi. 

The Italian pushed back in the third set, and soon scored the first break of serve for 4-2, causing the crowd to erupt at the thought of witnessing one of the biggest upsets in BNP Paribas Open history. 

Two games later it was done – Nardi dropped just three points in his final two service games, and Djokovic, the game’s best returner, could not summon the magic that has guided him to so many dramatic wins over the years. 

Djokovic, 24-0 against players ranked outside of the Top 100 since losing to World No. 109 Taro Daniel at Indian Wells in 2018, falls to 51-10 lifetime at Indian Wells. He has not won the title at Indian Wells since 2016. 

“Congrats to him for particularly in the third set playing some great, great tennis,” Djokovic said. “He got in as a Lucky Loser to the main draw, so he really didn't have anything to lose, he played great and deserved to win. 

“I was more surprised with my level. My level was really, really bad. That's it, you know – these two things come together. He's having a great day; I'm having a really bad day. Results as a negative outcome for me.”

Nardi, who is set to make his Top 100 debut next week thanks to his heroics, will move on to face American Tommy Paul in the Round of 16.

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