Djokovic leaves upset, argues with referee over interference call in Indian Wells defeat | Tennis news

World number one Novak Djokovic, who was returning to action at Indian Wells after five years, was stunned 6-4 3-6 6-3 by lucky loser Luca Nardi as the Serb suffered a shock exit in the third round on Monday. The defeat ended Djokovic’s bid to win a record sixth title at the tournament held in the Californian desert. It also left him without a trophy in 2024, after suffering a semi-final defeat to eventual champion Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open in January.

Novak Djokovic during an argument with the chair umpire

Monday, after Nardi, who grew up idolizing Djokovic and is ranked 123rd in the world, won the first set in shocking fashion, the 24-time Grand Slam champion bounced back quickly to break the Italian early in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. But Nardi recovered the break in no time to make it 2-1, which is when the controversy erupted.

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Serving to take a 3-0 lead, Djokovic found himself trailing 0-40 and fouled his first serve. During the Serb’s second serve, Nardi thought it was over and stopped to make a weak return over the net. Djokovic also clipped a return before the youngster chased him down to hit a winner and convert the break point.

Djokovic was surprised by Nardi’s hesitation to play the return on serve as he looked at the chair umpire in bewilderment expecting a foul call before getting upset at the official for counting the point in favor of Nardi. Here’s how the conversation went:

Djokovic: He stopped. He stopped.

Chair umpire: He didn’t make a call. He didn’t really stop the subject. Just because it stopped doesn’t mean the point stopped.

Djokovic: It’s not because it stopped that the point stopped? What are you talking about? He literally stopped, and that was it, and he completely confused me because I stopped too. How can we not make this judgment?

Chair umpire: Do you want me to call an obstacle?

Djokovic: Of course.

Chair umpire: Just because he stays there and doesn’t continue the game doesn’t mean he’s an obstacle. If he were to say ” ” or emphasize ” ” or something like that, then yes, I would agree with you 100%. But as he did nothing to stop the problem.

Despite the controversy, Djokovic bounced back to win the second and force a decider, but the Italian came back strong to inflict a major upset in California and script the biggest victory of his career.

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