The 20-year-old prevailed 3-4(4), 4-2, 4-3(1), 1-4, 4-3(3) in an all-Italian clash with Flavio Cobolli at King Abdullah Sports City to register his first win of the season-ending 21-and-under event. Although victory in the absorbing two-hour, 14-minute Green Group match was not enough to earn a semi-final place for Nardi, the World No. 115 showcased his class as he battled through a groin issue to seal his second tour-level win of the season.
"I am happy with the win," Nardi told ATPTour.com. "Even if I didn't qualify, I think today was the best match I played out of the three. I am a bit sad I did not qualify but I did not want to leave Jeddah without a win. I kept fighting today and I am happy."
A win for Nardi ensured that top seed Arthur Fils was the first player to qualify for the semi-finals at the first ATP-sanctioned event in Saudi Arabia. The top seeded Frenchman later defeated Dominic Stricker in four sets. Stricker nonetheless secured his own semi-final spot, and simultaneously confirmed Cobolli's exit from the tournament, by winning the second set against Fils.
Fuel Gauge shows how much a player should have left in the tank based on historical benchmarks.
Nardi responded to dropping the opening-set tie-break in style against Cobolli as he produced some stunning attacking tennis to claim the second and third sets. He appeared to clutch his groin when serving at 0-1 in the fourth set, however, and later called for a medical time-out at 0-3.
Cobolli closed out the fourth set with ease and, with his movement slightly hindered, Nardi began to take big cuts at the ball to try and shorten the rallies in the decider. The tactic worked, as he produced a rock-solid deciding tie-break which featured one of the shots of the week, a backhand flick from out wide that had the crowd on its feet.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Nardi when asked about the shot in his on-court interview. “I was just running, not even well because I was injured, and I hit the shot unbelievably. I said sorry because it was lucky. I am happy and I would like to see it later.”
As well as two tour-level victories, Nardi finishes 2023 with a 34-22 record on the ATP Challenger Tour which includes two title runs in Porto and Matsuyama, respectively.
Physicality Index Insights
Going into this match the goal for both players was to make it more physical and run less distance than their opponent. Nardi ended up finishing the match with a lower Physicality Index rating (8.1 vs. 8.4) and ran less distance (1.81 km vs. 1.92 km) than Cobolli. Both players saved their best physical performance for the fifth set, showing why they are some of the most elite athletes in the world for their age. Nardi and Cobolli were able to perform their highest distance per minute in the fifth set, due to longer average rallies. The match came down to Nardi ultimately being more aggressive in the bigger moments, pushing Cobolli into performing more higher speed distance and explosive movements.