Match Reaction

Djokovic: 'My level was really, really bad'

Serbian lost to World No. 123 Nardi in Indian Wells
March 12, 2024
Novak Djokovic is 8-3 on the year after his latest defeat.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Novak Djokovic is 8-3 on the year after his latest defeat. By ATP Staff

For the second time this season, Novak Djokovic was left frustrated and surprised by his performance after he suffered a shock third-round defeat to World No. 123 Luca Nardi at the BNP Paribas Open.

The Serbian struggled to assert any kind of dominance over Nardi, who played aggressively to triumph in three sets.

“He got in as a lucky loser to the main draw, so he really didn't have anything to lose, so he played great. Deserved to win. I was more surprised with my level. My level was really, really bad,” Djokovic said. “These two things come together. He's having a great day; I'm having a really bad day. Results as a negative outcome for me.”

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Djokovic was competing for the first time since he fell to Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January. The 36-year-old clawed past Aleksandar Vukic in three sets in his opening match in Indian Wells but failed to find his level against Nardi.

He hit just two winners in the third set compared to 16 from the Italian, while he won 42 per cent (16/38) of his second-serve points.

“I helped him play well, and I didn't help myself at all. I made some really terrible unforced errors. Just quite defensive tennis, and not much on the ball in the third and that's it,” Djokovic said. “He just stepped in and he used the time that he had. He was playing more free and more aggressive than I did and going for his shots and that break on 3-2 in the third was enough.”

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Djokovic, who was playing in Indian Wells for the first time since 2019, was chasing a record sixth title in the desert and first trophy of the season. It is just the second time in six years (also 2022) that the 98-time tour-level champion has not won a title by March.

The No. 1 player in the PIF ATP Rankings is concerned with the form he is showing and is desperate to find solutions.

“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 a Dubai win or any tournament,” Djokovic said. “It is part of the sport. You just have to accept it. Some you win; some you lose. Hopefully I'll win some more and still keep going.

“I guess every trophy that eventually comes my way is going to be great. Obviously to break the kind of negative cycle a little bit I'm having in the last three, four tournaments where I haven't really been close to my best.”

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