Luca Nardi is congratulated by Novak Djokovic after their third round match at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Monday. Image Credit: AFP

Indian Wells: Novak Djokovic vowed to play the upcoming Miami Open after blaming a “really bad day” for his shock exit at the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters on Monday.

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The Serbian world No 1’s long-awaited return to Indian Wells after a five-year absence ended in a stunning third round defeat to lowly ranked Italian Luca Nardi, the world No 123.

Djokovic said despite the setback, he still planned to play in Miami.

Next Masters date

“Miami is there, so let’s see,” he said of the next Masters date.

“I wasn’t enjoying not playing the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami) last couple of years. I really wanted to play.

“I really wanted to come (this year) and I really enjoy being both in Indian Wells and Miami,” added Djokovic after his 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat.

Five-time Indian Wells winner Djokovic was playing his first event since losing to another Italian young gun in Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open semi-finals more than six weeks ago.

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The 20-year-old Italian looks shocked after defeating his idol Djokovic. Image Credit: Reuters

“He got in as a lucky loser to the main draw, so he really didn’t have anything to lose — so he played great,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion said of Nardi.

“He deserved to win. I was more surprised with my level. My level was really, really bad.

“That’s it, these two things come together. He’s having a great day; I’m having a really bad day. Results (are) a negative outcome for me.”

Selective schedule

Djokovic, who at age 36 is trying to consolidate his tournament schedule, said he will carry on to Miami starting next week.

“I do play fewer tournaments, so I’m more selective with my schedule.

“Of course, it’s not a great feeling when you drop out very early in the tournament, and especially here.

“I haven’t played (here) in five years. I really wanted to do well. But it wasn’t meant to be. We move on.”

The 20-year-old Italian described the victory as a “miracle”. Nardi, who grew up idolising Djokovic, played the match of his life to defeat the Serbian, dropping his racket and putting his hands over his face after firing an ace out wide to seal the win.

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Luca Nardi hugs his team members after the stunning win over Novak Djokovic. Image Credit: AP

“This is a miracle,” said Nardi, who lost to David Goffin in qualifiers on Tuesday and only got into the main draw after Tomas Etcheverry withdrew due to injury.

“I’m a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world and I beat Novak. Crazy. Just crazy.” Nardi came out flying under the lights on centre court, drawing Djokovic to the net with a short ball and then rifling a forehand past him for an early break and a 3-2 lead.

Crucial break

Djokovic was well short of his best and a service return from the 24-time Grand Slam champion found the net to hand Nardi the first set.

The top seed broke Nardi twice in the second set and held at love to level the contest but his opponent, who had a poster of Djokovic on his wall growing up, refused to back down.

Nardi hit a backhand that Djokovic could not put back in play for a crucial break and a 4-2 advantage in the decider before pulling off the upset.

Nardi will next face American Tommy Paul.

Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils of France reacts during his win over Cameron Norrie in the third round. Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Earlier, Gael Monfils produced a stunning display of shot-making and showmanship to rally from a set and 3-0 down to beat former champion Cameron Norrie 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 to reach the last 16.

The 37-year-old Frenchman electrified the crowd with his creativity to set up fourth round meeting with ninth seed Casper Ruud.

Unpredictable puzzle

Norrie, who won the tournament in 2021, piled up 60 unforced errors and could not solve the unpredictable Monfils puzzle in the three hour and 15 minute affair.

“I feel better and better, to be honest,” said Monfils, who was sidelined with a wrist injury for part of last season.

“I’ve been playing weeks after weeks, which has been a long time I am able to do that. I feel good. So far the body is holding, so I’m happy with that.” American Taylor Fritz, the tournament’s 2022 champion, breezed past Sebastian Baez 6-2 6-2 and Grigor Dimitrov’s career renaissance got another big lift with a 6-3 6-3 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.

Seventh seed Holger Rune beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-2 7-6(5) and 17th-seeded American Paul sailed past Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-4 in other third-round action.