© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Luca Nardi is competing on home soil in Rome this week after receiving a wild card.

Newcomer Nardi: Get To Know The Latest #NextGenATP Italian Star

18-year-old has won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year

From Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner to Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti, Italy has produced a plethora of ATP Tour stars in recent years.

Now, they have more young talents emerging, with one named Luca Nardi.

The #NextGenATP 18-year-old has enjoyed an impressive 2022 season, capturing ATP Challenger Tour titles at events in Forli and Lugano. His results have seen him climb to ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, as he aims to make his debut at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November.

This week, the Italian will make his debut at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after receiving a wild card from the ATP Masters 1000 event. It signifies another crucial moment for Nardi, who recently spoke to ATPTour.com about the factors behind his recent success.

“I started training harder and with more intensity. I also started a diet and eating better,” Nardi said when discussing his season. “Everything is going better from that. I'm trying to be as professional as I can. In general, it is the same training, with maybe some extra work on the forehand and backhand, but the intensity is much different. That is the difference.

“In Italy, the other players push me to do my best. We have so many good players now, with Sinner, Berrettini, Musetti and Sonego. I hope I can be [like them] in the future. They always push me to do much better and work harder.”

Nardi will be looking to follow in the footsteps of World No. 13 Sinner, who lifted the trophy in Milan in 2019 aged 18, the same age Nardi is now. The Italian has already earned 16 ATP Challenger Tour match wins this year, having recorded just seven victories at that level last season.

Nardi was No. 364 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in January, but is currently at a career-high No. 198. With 17 Italian players ranked inside the Top 200, Nardi is the youngest at 18 years and nine months. His recent success has been a reward for the hard work he has put in since he first picked up a racquet 11 years ago.

“When I was a child, my brother Niccolo was also playing tennis,” Nardi said. “He's seven years older than me. I always went to watch him at the tennis club. I enjoyed it a lot. Then, when I was seven years old, I started playing in my hometown in Pesaro.

“I remember being so shy when I was on the court. My mom had to stand at the net, just so I was comfortable. From there, I played more and more tennis and took it more seriously a couple years ago. I was always going to public school and then playing tennis, so I was living two lives: study life and tennis life. But until I was 16, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Since two years ago, I took tennis more seriously and started going to private school.”

From being motivated by his brother to overcoming his shyness, Nardi is now flying higher than ever. However, just three years ago he was uncertain as to whether he would even pursue a career in the sport after he split with coach Francesco Sani.

“Francesco Sani was my coach since I was seven years old. From the beginning. But two and a half years ago, I moved to the Federation's tennis centre in Italy and I couldn't stay with him anymore,” Nardi revealed. “I stayed there for only one year with the Federation's coaches and trainers, but I didn't feel good without Francesco.

“There were many times that I wanted to stop playing tennis. I didn't work as hard, because I was sad. It wasn't a passion anymore. I wanted to stay with Francesco, but he has a family so there were some problems with his traveling.

Following his uncertainty, Nardi re-joined forces with Sani and continued playing the sport, which is a decision he feels has paid off today.

“For some reason I didn't stop and here I am,” Nardi added. “Now I am working with him [Sani] again in Pesaro, and with Gabriele Costantini. We have a very good relationship. If they see I'm sad on the court, they won't let me do it. They want me to be happy and I am having fun now, which is the most important thing for me.

“When I came back to my city, with my family, my friends and Francesco, I slowly started to play again and find that passion. I always call my friends and family when I am at tournaments and they are so important to me. I am calm and relaxed with them.”

Get To Know Luca
Biggest Passion Outside Tennis: I love motorcycles. I have a Yamaha. [Moto GP legend] Valentino Rossi is from my city, Pesaro. In my city, there is a lot of passion for professional moto. Everyone loves motorcycles there. You can imagine me going to the tennis club with my motorcycle.

I love playing padel. If playing professional padel paid as much as tennis pays, I would go for it. Five or six years ago, they started putting courts in Italy and now it's getting more popular.

Perfect Day Without Tennis: Wake up late, for sure. Then for lunch I will eat the best food my mom makes. It is pasta al forno. Then, I would go for a ride on my motorcycle and play padel. For dinner, I would eat sushi. I love sushi.

Dream Job Outside Tennis: Physiotherapist. Whenever I go to the physio, I have some questions to ask how the body works. That is my dream job.

Favourite Music: Latin/Reggaeton. 'Ozuna' is my favourite.

Favourite Food From Home: Pasta al forno (baked ziti)

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