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LUCKY LOSER MIRACLE: LUCA NARDI UPSTAGES DJOKOVIC



20-year-old Italian Luca Nardi has won the biggest match of his career to defeat world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the third round of Indian Wells. The victory is even more remarkable considering that Nardi entered the main draw as a Lucky Loser at the expense of a withdrawal from Argentine Tomas Martín Etcheverry. Djokovic, a five-time champion at Indian Wells, played considerably below his best throughout the opening set and was made to pay by his opponent who simply couldn't miss a ball. A solitary break was enough for Nardi to edge himself in front to win the first set without facing a break point opportunity on serve. Visibly struggling with a problem involving his leg and stomach, Djokovic put those niggles behind him to increase his intensity level and capitalise on an expected drop-off from the inexperienced Italian. There was a controversial moment midway through the second set when Nardi seemed to pause for a split second whilst returning serve, much to the dismay of the Serbian who pleaded to the umpire that it was a clear hindrance. Nerves would be understandable in unfamiliar territory, but yet again it was Nardi who failed to get broken and face a break point in the deciding set to pile the pressure on the 36-year-old veteran. Ridiculous winners on the forehand and backhand wing added with some deft touches at the net helped Nardi gain confidence that he could pull off the unthinkable. After two hours and 17 minutes, Nardi along with the crowd and Djokovic himself were left in disbelief as the underdog prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to progress to the fourth round of a Masters 1000 event for the first time. "Before this night, no one knew me," Nardi said during the on-court interview. "This is a miracle because I am 20-years-old and 100 in the world and beating Novak Djokovic."

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