ATP: who's Luca Nardi, Djokovic's conqueror?

The Italian is launching into the Top 100 after toppling one of his childhood idols Novak Djokovic.

Luca Nardi, round of 32, Indian Wells 2024©Antoine Couvercelle / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Luca Nardi is in dreamland in the Californian desert.

The 20-year-old posted on social media "A magical night I'll never forget" following his electric defeat of world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the Indian Wells Masters 1000.

Here are five things to know about Nardi…

1. From idol to opponent

Nardi revealed prior to his tussle with the 24-time Grand Slam champion that he has had a poster of Djokovic on his bedroom door ever since he was eight years old.

“I think it's one of the best experiences that a guy can live, especially for someone young like me,” Nardi told the ATP. “I have a picture of him in my room, so you can imagine for me how this can be very exciting. For sure it's going to be a great experience.”

It was a great experience and much more, as the 'Lucky Loser' knocked out the top seed 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the Last 16 at Indian Wells.

His ultra-aggressive approach was rewarded, particularly in the deciding set, when the 20-year-old struck 16 winners in contrast to Djokovic's two, connecting with piercing shots to cap his match of a lifetime.

"I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It's crazy."

2. Seaside roots

Nardi hails from a seaside town on Italy's Adriatic coast called Pesaro.

"It’s on the beach. I love going there and enjoying my time on the sea. The people are super cool there, they are all chilling there."

The town on the east coast is renowned for raising Moto GP icon Valentino Rossi. During a Roland-Garros 2022 campaign, Nardi told he "always" rides a Yamaha motorbike in his spare time.

Now he's racing up the rankings having started tennis at seven years old. Following in the footsteps of his brother Niccolo, Nardi picked up a racket at their local club and "fell in love with the sport." By 16-years-old, Nardi was ready to pursue tennis as his professional career.

3. Seismic shock Stateside

Djokovic holds the all-time record with 40 Masters 1000 title triumphs as well as the men's all-time record of 24 majors.

So, early rounds defeats are a rare occurrence for the 'Hall of Fame' Serbian.

World No.123 Nardi's incredible showing meant he is the lowest-ranked player to down Djokovic at the Masters or Grand Slam level ever.

On top of that, Nardi was ready to leave California for his next tournament, but signed up on the 'Lucky Loser' list, having fallen to David Goffin in the final round of qualifying last week. What a turnaround for the Italian.

"I think that before this night no one knew me," said Nardi, recording just his fifth tour-level victory on Monday. "I hope that the crowd enjoyed the game. I'm super happy with this one."

Nardi advances to face Amercian No.17 seed Tommy Paul to vie for a quarter-final ticket.

4. Federer the ultimate duel

During a quick-fire social media interview with ATP at the Next Gen Finals last year, Nardi was asked his dream matchup.

The Italian beamed as he stated a certain Swiss maestro.

"For sure I would like to play against Roger Federer because he's the best player, ever."

5. Drawing inspiration from 'The Fox'

Italian tennis is basking in all sorts of glory.

Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner is plotting the path for his compatriots to succeed at the very top. Nardi is taking note.

"For sure I'm watching Jannik winning all the matches," added Nardi."For sure it's something that pushed me to be better. I didn't expect to win today, but I always try to do my best in practice, and this happened and I'm really happy."

Jannik Sinner, round of 32, Indian Wells 2024©Antoine Couvercelle / FFT