Novak Djokovic - Indian Wells 2024

Novak Djokovic claims he ‘was really bad’ in shock Indian Wells exit

Novak Djokovic has seen his bid for a record sixth Indian Wells title come to an end, with the world No.1 losing to a lucky loser for the first time in his career.

Djokovic was beaten by 20-year-old Luca Nardi, 4-6 6-3 3-6, who had previously lost in qualifying to David Goffin.

It was only the fifth main tour win of the Italian’s career, who reflected on the victory after the match, “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. I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy.”

And Djokovic was full of praise for the world No.123, despite the Serbian also being very critical of his own performance.

“Congrats to him for particularly in the third set playing some great, great tennis,” said Djokovic. “I watched him play. I didn’t know much about him, but I watched him play, and I knew he possessed great quality tennis from the baseline, especially the forehand side. Moves well. Very talented.

“He got in as a lucky loser to main draw so he really didn’t have anything to lose. He played great, 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. Result was a negative outcome for me.”

It is Djokovic’s third defeat of the season, having also lost to Alex de Minaur at the United Cup and Jannik Sinner in the semi-final of the Australian Open.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion has spoken about the unfamiliar territory he currently finds himself in, “I could have done everything differently.

“Very poor performance from my side, and no titles this year, that’s not something I’m used to. I was starting the season most of my career with a Grand Slam win or Dubai win or any other tournament.”

He concluded, “But it’s fine, it’s part of the sport and you just have to accept it. Some you win, some you lose. Hopefully, I will win some more. I’ll still keep going. I guess every trophy that eventually comes my way is going to be great, obviously to break the negative cycle a little bit that I’m having the last three to four tournaments where I haven’t been close to my best.”

Djokovic will now turn his attention to the Miami Open that begins next week, with Nardi taking on American Tommy Paul for a place in the Indian Wells quarter-finals.

Inside the baseline…

This has to be one of the biggest shocks in Masters 1000 history, with almost nobody expecting this result prior to the match. Obviously this will be a huge disappointment for Novak Djokovic, who never enjoys losing as it happens so infrequently, but it is also a big missed opportunity for the world No.1 to gain ranking points on his rivals after missing the tournament last year. Djokovic will be hoping for a much improved performance in Miami next week, where he is a record six-time champion.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.