Tennis Prose



Major Upset: Djokovic Falls To Nardi

Luca Nardi, the little known Italian Lucky Loser, created one of the upsets of the year as he defeated world no.1 Novak Djokovic 64 36 63.

The 20 year old ranked 123 seemed to have too much firepower for the usually reliable Djokovic defense system but it can be said the Serbian superstar is not the same player right now that he was in 2023 and 2023 for a range of reasons. More on that later.

Nardi lost in the BNP Paribas Open qualies to David Goffin 67 75 46 and then beat the rinsing Chinese star Zhizhen Zhang in the second round (after a first round bye). The fleet footed Nardi has nuclear power in his ground strokes, some of which left the 24 time Grand Slam champion looking stunned and helpless.

Nardi’s career ATP match record before this week was just 3-12 but one match can change everything and now the Italian Stallion has made a name for himself and he will be observed with scrutiny and curiosity at all of his future tournaments. Was it a fluke win or was Djokovic that far off his A game?

None other than two time Australian Open champion Johan Kriek was so impressed by Nardi’s arsenal that he predicted the six-foot-one, 160 pounder coached by former ATP top 100 player Giorgio Galimberti and Marco De Rossi is a future top ten star. “Holy moly!! Nardi is playing class A tennis!! Guy is a top tenner for sure! He is s solid top ten player already.”

Djokovic clearly is not operating at his optimum level right now. He has not won a tournament all year and last week he admitted that his sensational and amazing 2023 took a lot out of him, a hint that he’s struggling with motivation, dedication, focus and obsession to dominate at age 36 with 24 Grand Slams and hundreds of millions of dollars in his pockets. What more does Djokovic have left to prove?

Nardi won’t have much time to celebrate his career best triumph – he will face American Tommy Paul for a quarterfinal slot against the winner of Ruud vs Monfils.

Nardi quotes: “I didn’t expect to win today… I don’t know [how I kept my cool to finish the win]. I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy…. 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.”

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  • Cory · March 13, 2024 at 11:56 am

    Interestingly this reminds me of how Maroszan beat an Alcaraz as an unknown and catapulted his success. Moroszan is now a regular top 60 type guy who can play at or above his level.

    Nardi was I believe an 18-1 underdog too. Guys bet Novak probably $500 to win $30… and never got it. Tennis is cruel ain’t it?

    Novak was perturbed by that critical break point in the 2nd set where Nardi seemed to give up on a ball that he thought was going to be called out, only to give a last second cursory swing at it (so as not to totally lose the point), and ended up winning the point as Novak essentially gave up on the point saying that Nardi giving up on the point was a distraction. The rules afford nothing to stop the point because of the body language of the other player…. i believe. Meaning, even if Nardi had stopped and held his finger up to the sky to challenge, that would not officially stop the point, as the umpire would have no grounds to stop it given there are no challenges here. what if a player did jumping jacks or did something to hinder the other player intentionally? Then there i see a hinderance. But Nardi feigning to stop play (tho i don’t think it was intentional but it wouldnt matter if it were), as I see it, is immaterial. Thoughts?

  • Harold · March 13, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    Where are all the East European Djoker fanboys? Pathetic act at the handshake, giving a kid that just had the biggest win of his life, a lecture on Djokovic Etiquette, which was 100 percent wrong, the kid did nothing more than head faking… Weak move, his PR image reset takes a hit

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 13, 2024 at 2:25 pm

    Cory, Nardi did nothing wrong or deceptive, he sincerely thought it was out and improvised a shot to stay in the point. I think this incident shows that Djokovic’s head is not fully in the game right now. His competitive mindset is a little off with all the distractions – NBA game, Jokic, UCLA, family with him, doing that mini Biofile with Jeffrey Katzenberg, I think Djokovic is cruising on auto pilot now, he’s not trying to improve anymore, he thinks he can win off his past results. This was a wake up call. If he wants to keep dominating he has to go back into the laboratory and be a beast wrecking machine again. But that may be impossible because there is nothing left to prove. I think if he played Rafa instead of Nardi, he would have been more fired up. The old boxing maxim: “Great fighters have trouble getting up for mediocre fights.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 13, 2024 at 2:29 pm

    Harold that did not look like a Rafa lecture on grunting to Sonego, looked more like an authentic congratulatory respect for Nardi and how well he played. It was a very minor incident that should not be blown up into an anti Novak controversy.

  • Cory · March 14, 2024 at 10:34 am

    I agree, i saw nothing wrong with the handshake. It seemed Novak congratulated him and re-explained his position on the 2nd set incident. Didn’t seem bad. Maybe the public knows what was said and I don’t. IDK.

    Also it’s true Novak took a bad loss but I don’t find it necessarily telling that he’s gotta reinvigorate or reinvent (altho he likely will be furious and do something mental). Even when you’re playing great, you can still lose once in awhile to the guy who’s got a 1 in 20 chance. It’s a 3-setter, it happens. But yes, big stage and this was an important tourney for Novak. Honestly I think it would have been worse, and more telling, if he lost to a Tsitsipas or a Ruud or a Rune.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 14, 2024 at 8:59 pm

    Cory, Djokovic might have even subconsciously tanked, he has nothing to prove by winning IW or Miami, he needs to conserve his energies for the next Grand Slam. Absolutely no reason to burn up what is left in his all time greatness tank. Nadal wouldn’t even waste his time and energy on Raonic.

  • Sam · March 16, 2024 at 9:36 pm

    I think Djokovic is cruising on auto pilot now, he’s not trying to improve anymore, he thinks he can win off his past results. This was a wake up call. If he wants to keep dominating he has to go back into the laboratory and be a beast wrecking machine again.

    I think you nailed it, Scoop. Maybe he needs to put this song on heavy rotation: 🐺

    For the past few months, it seems Djokovic has been more interested in showboating 🎤 than in getting down ‘n’ dirty on the court.

    This also helps put his loss to Sinner in Australia in perspective. While Sinner was a deserving winner overall, Djokovic was never really ready for the tournament. He was just phoning it in the whole time 📞, assuming that would be enough, but then was stunned to realize it wasn’t. 😬 The feisty, driven Djokovic just never seemed to show up.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 17, 2024 at 8:11 am

    Sam, He has nothing left to prove, he did it all in 22, 23. I dont’ think he can summon the level required to win another GS. Right now he’s still in los Angeles enjoying life. They showed him at another NBA game.

  • Sam · March 21, 2024 at 7:39 am

    That’s true, Scoop. Maybe he really is done winning Grand Slams. And hopefully he can adjust his expectations accordingly.

    I still believe he might win Wimbledon this year, though.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2024 at 8:48 am

    Sam, I think this is the final year for Novak. If he wins nothing this year, he will end it. I sense a very small part of him wants to end it. But we will see if he can find that obsessive hunger one more time in Paris or Wimbledon.

  • Sam · March 25, 2024 at 9:41 pm

    I really don’t see him winning the French Open again, Scoop, but you never really know. Same for the Olympics.

    If he does win a big one, I believe Wimbledon is his best chance.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 26, 2024 at 9:33 am

    It’s wide open this year, could get a Martin Verkerk type in a final )

  • Sam · March 30, 2024 at 12:06 am

    Do you believe the rumors that he might skip Wimbledon to concentrate on the Olympics? 🤔

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 30, 2024 at 8:19 am

    No way, Wimbledon is his favorite tournament and this could be his last year to play it. 100 percent Novak is playing Wimbledon.

  • Sam · April 4, 2024 at 5:57 pm

    That would be my guess too, Scoop.



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