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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, March 11, 2024

Traditionally, Novak Djokovic starts seasons producing peak performances.

Returning to the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in five years, the five-time Indian Wells champion fell flat in a stunning upset.

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Lucky loser Luca Nardi scored the biggest win of his career shocking world No. 1 Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Monday night.

The 123rd-ranked Italian is the lowest-ranked player to ever defeat Grand Slam king Djokovic at a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam tournament.

Ten-time Australian Open champion Djokovic credited Nardi for a well-deserved win, but called out his own "poor performance."

Asked if this upset was a function of his lack of match play or the fact he has not competed in the desert conditions in five years, Djokovic said it may well be a combination of both factors.

"I'm going to obviously analyze what was done, what could have been done better, and then move on," Djokovic said. "I do play fewer tournaments, so I'm more selective with my schedule. So of course it's not great feeling when you, you know, drop out very early in the tournament, and especially here, I haven't played five years. I really wanted to do well.

"But wasn't meant to be. We move on."

The 36-year-old Serbian superstar said he knew Nardi's forehand and movement were weapons and was disappointed with his own "really bad day."

"I could have done everything different. I mean, as I said, very poor performance from my side," Djokovic said. "Yeah, 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, you know, Dubai win, or any or tournament.

"It's fine. You know, it's 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."

The top seed's defeat came hours after fellow former No. 1 Naomi Osaka fell to Elise Mertens on Stadium Court. In Osaka's case, she often set up the pivotal points, but frequently misfired on the finishing forehand.

In the final set of Djokovic's loss to Nardi, the world No. 1 often wasn't even getting a shot at the finishing strike because Nardi was repeatedly beating him to the punch.

Now, six-time Miami Open champion Djokovic suggests he will move on to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, an event he last won in 2016.

"Yeah, for the moment, Miami is there, so let's see," Djokovic said. "Let's see, obviously 10 minutes ago I was on the court, so I'm still hot-headed a bit. I need to take a day or two and then see what I want to do next."

The US Open champion's top priority is stacking some wins together.

"I guess every trophy that eventually comes my way is going to be great," Djokovic said with a smile. "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."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis