20-year-old lucky loser stuns Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells

League: Tennis

Posted on: 12 Mar, 2024 at 05:48 AM

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic, in his first appearance at the BNP Paribas Open since 2019, didn't make it out of the third round at Indian Wells, Calif.

The world No. 1 and top seed lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Monday in a third-round match against Italy's Luca Nardi, a lucky loser from qualifying who made the draw as an alternate.

Nardi, 20, is ranked 123rd in the world. He hadn't played a main-draw match in an ATP Tour event this year prior to arriving in Indian Wells, and he had a career 3-12 record on tour.

"I think that before this night no one knew me," Nardi said after beating Djokovic, whom he called his idol. "I hope that the crowd enjoyed the game. I'm super happy with this one. ...

"I don't know (how I held my nerve). I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It's crazy."

Djokovic, a 36-year-old from Serbia, is a five-time BNP Paribas Open champion.

Nardi finished with twice as many winners as Djokovic (34-17), making up for 19 unforced errors compared to Djokovic's nine.

Nardi advances to face No. 17 seed Tommy Paul of the United States in the fourth round. Paul ousted French 14th seed Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-4.

In other third-round action on Monday, No. 7 seed Holger Rune of Denmark shook off some rust to pick up a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over 26th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Rune has had to play just one match to reach the fourth round. He opened the tournament with a bye, then advanced when Canada's Milos Raonic withdrew from their second-round meeting.

Although he enjoyed the time off, Rune was eager to get back on the court.

"I felt great," Rune said. "Finally, the wait was over. I was so eager to play. On Saturday, when I heard it was a walkover, obviously I wish (Raonic) all the best. I really wanted to play, but that's how it is. I just got two extra practice days, which is good, and managed to come in in good shape (Monday)."

Rune won 31 of 38 first-serve points and collected 24 winners to Musetti's 15.

Now Rune is off to face 12th-seeded American Taylor Fritz, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over No. 19 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina on Monday. Fritz was the Indian Wells champion in 2022.

Frenchman Gael Monfils also advanced to the round of 16, rallying past Great Britain's Cameron Norrie, the No. 28 seed, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Monfils saved a whopping 18 of 20 break points in the first set despite falling into an early hole. He then faced a 3-0 deficit in the second set but wound up prevailing in a tiebreaker. Monfils won the last three games of the final set to complete the comeback.

"I've been working hard and you're ready for anything to come your way," Monfils said. "I was battling hard, and Cam played really good, better than me at the beginning, so I had to change, I had to think about it, I had to improve. I was happy that physically I could stay with him and even at the end I felt good."

Other winners included No. 9 seed Casper Ruud of Norway and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 13 seed.

In the final match of the night, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia dispatched 29th-seeded Sebastian Korda of the United States 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

--Field Level Media