ATP 500 Astana: splendid Nardi, but Tsitsipas wins in two tiebreaks

Luca Nardi on the pitch in Astana

Luca Nardi on the pitch in Astana

The “legendary Rino” called it the litmus test, confirming a good victory with another important match. The success did not come, but the performance did, strong and clear. At times stellar. Luca Nardi is defeated in the second round of the ATP 500 in Astana, beaten by world n.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, but even in today’s match, even more clearly than his debut in the main draw, he showed a high quality tennis, playing on par with the Greek champion. Stefanos won it with two tiebreaks, good at taking the only point “badly shot” from Luca (a tape), while in the second “decider” a muscle problem that occurred in the twelfth game penalized the blue a bit. Unfortunately it is a defeat for the Pesaro, but the performance was so important, both in terms of quality and quantity, to leave us with very little bitterness in the mouth.

Luca never conceded a single break point in the whole match, a clear sign of how well he served for the duration of the match. He held up the exchange against the Greek equally, even at very high speed and with open corners. He was always quick to run forward when there was the opportunity, like playing almost half-flight from behind on the deepest trajectories of the rival, showing a time of remarkable impact and sensitivity.

Luca played an excellent match in every sector of the game. Where perhaps he is a bit missed is in response, even if he came – unlike his rival – to two break points in the second set, well canceled by Stefanos with his serve. However, the Greek served well, continuously and accurately, so it is not correct to speak of a “bad” response in Nardi. He missed the leap, he tried above all to contain and initiate the exchange. It should also be emphasized that Luca had never played an official match against such a strong opponent, and on a good day, then the fact that he managed to hold up for the entire duration of the match, without a blank pass, without giving almost anything to the opponent, and closing even with more winning strokes is an extremely significant result.

Where Nardi really liked it was in the attitude on the pitch, rather than in a shot or tactical solution. He had nothing to lose, of course, but he played a concrete, solid match, in which he showed off his excellent technical repertoire without fear, without ever holding his arm or shaking. He held up well with the first serve and never let his opponent dominate the pitch. When Stefanos accelerated to full speed, Luca entered the ball and put some of his own, both with the forehand and with the backhand. He faced the game head-on, taking risks and exploring the whole field. The astonished glances of the Greek at his corner on some of Nardi’s defenses transformed into attacks – and what attacks – or into sudden accelerations despite the other rhythms of the game are worth a thousand words. Excellent how he managed on several occasions to verticalize along the line in total advance and effortlessly, exiting an all-crossed exchange. You play very fast, with minimal openings, typical of a boy who feels the ball and has a sense of rhythm, and is able to change his own big rhythm in anticipation and sensitivity.

Luca has shown everyone and first of all to himself that he has a level of tennis ready for the high level. The conditions were probably ideal for him (fast but not too fast), and he felt good hitting his opponent’s quick but clean ball. It was an enjoyable match, played across the board and with great pace, probably the kind of match that enhances his tennis qualities. Sincere applause for the performance, Luca!

Marco Mazzoni

The chronicle of the meeting.

The match begins with Nardi at the bar. Without any awe, the young blue detaches from the blocks very confidently, with an Ace he moves the score of the game. Stefanos also starts his match at bat with an Ace, without any problems he takes 1 all. Service dominates in the early stages of the meeting, exchanges are reduced to the bone. On 2 equal Luca commits a double fault, then throws himself forward and finds an amazing flying touch, far from easy, with the ball just passing the net and pinching just the line, to the astonishment of the Greek. Excellent start for Nardi, very confident in his shots, 3-2. Tsitsipas is equally sure on the serve, but in response he fails to enter the exchange led by the blue, because Nardi’s ball is fast, deep and very angled. Stefanos is forced to always play in the race, unable to “hold still” Luca, turn on the forehand and score. With another quick and very precise cross right, Nardi goes 4-3. The fast and rather clean strokes of the Greek seem to be very pleased by the Pesaro, who finds precise impacts and does not lose the field. In the ninth game the blue chooses a descent to the net following an attack that is too slow, and is passed; then on 15 equal he is blocked on the left by a nice counterattack from Stefanos. 15-30, for the first time in difficulty in a shift. He risks a short ball, discreetly executed, which surprises the Greek, then passed under the net. With a splendid forehand Nardi goes from defense to attack, beautifully balanced and with a masterful wrist closure. Great shot, like the next forehand, coming out of the service (this time with little balance), which finds the corner uncovered by coming out of the serve. 5-4 Nardi, an excellent Nardi so far. Tsitsipas serves to lengthen the set, does not feel any pressure and impacts 5 all. He enters the very hot phase of the set, very fast (35 minutes so far). Luca constantly changes angle in the serve, Stefanos complains with his angle of not being able to respond effectively. 6-5 Nardi. Beautiful the first point of the 12th game, exchange at a very high pace and open corners, Stef closes it with a remarkable backhand damping. The level of play is very good. The first set is decided at the tiebreak, no break points conceded so far. Luca starts very well, I attack with a nice cut and 1-0. Stefanos explodes his favorite pattern, outside serve and inside out forehand against foot, then an Ace for 2-1. Luca is not lucky in the fourth point, his exchange shot is deflected by the tape, Stefanos takes advantage of it by attacking, for the 3-1 Tsitsipas. The class of the champion: with a one-point advantage, he risks with a sudden right long line and flying to the net to close. 4-1 and Tsitsipas service. It turns on 5-1. With a perfect outside serve, it’s 6-1 and five set points for the Greek. Tsitsipas closes 7-2, perfect in the service throughout the partial and very good at capitalizing on the first chance in the “decider”. It remains a beautiful set for the blue, who played on par with the n.6 in the world.

Tsitsipas starts the second set in service, continuing to hammer with great effectiveness. The lost set did not interrupt Nardi’s tennis, which continues to flow very solid and effective in the service. 1-1. the level of play remains very good, in response neither player can make a difference, until the sixth game. On 3-2 Tsitsipas, Nardi service, Luca commits a double fault and then commits a backhand error on the pressure of the Greek. 15-30. With the service he brings the blue 30 even, so he finds a very tight cross right against the foot that is really difficult and very spectacular. Well Luca, overcomes the difficult moment for 3 all. Under 4-3, Nardi plays with great personality, with courage he pushes and even throws himself forward to take the point. The audience cheers “Luca-Luca”, applauds the excellent tennis of the blue. 4 even. There has not yet been a break point in the whole match. Tsitsipas is perfect in the serve, the first works very well and Nardi can’t find the key to be incisive in response. The blue serves with his back to the wall, under 5-4. Pressure? Far from it, he plays with serve and straight, precise, feet close to the back line and away, to push and touch the ball with skill. 5 even. Serves Stefanos, and makes two mistakes (a forehand, then a backhand), 15-30. Little big chance for Luca, at least to try. Nothing, external Ace, impregnable. 30 even. But on the following point the backhand cross attack is short, Luca arrives well and with the backhand along the line he finds a passer-by who earns him the first break point of the whole match. And the first ball does not enter … If the Greek plays it well, Nardi’s response is a bit short, he attacks hard with the forehand and closes under the net of arrogance. POINT! The point of the match is Luca Nardi: he finds a perfect backhand lob, which punishes the Greek’s attack. Second break ball for the blue! He cancels it with the Stefanos service, showing all his determination in this hot phase of the match. With a backhand from Nardi, Tsitsipas moves forward 6-5. The second set is also decided at the tiebreak. After losing the first point, Nardi approaches the referee’s chair, perhaps asking the trainer for a muscle problem (he touches his thigh). Luca finds a passer-by of touch with the right of pure sensitivity and pulse, played almost from a standstill. What a hand! 1 even. He then makes a mistake with the forehand does not find the ball well with his feet, probably because of the annoyance. Wrong with the right Stefanos, 2 all. At 3-2, Tsitsipas finds a right cross from the deadly corner, the ball goes away impregnable. It turns 4-2 Tsitsipas. In the TV replay we see that Luca limps, stopping the race at the last point. He attacks with the short ball “Stef” at 5-3. A perfect back, which earned him 6-3 and three Match Points, the first two in response. He closes the Greek first, with another broadside of cross law, impregnable. 7-6 7-6. At the handshake, Tsitsipas asks if anything has happened, and Luca points to a problem with the back of one thigh. He leaves the field defeated, but with a great applause from the audience. Bravo Nardi, it is a great experience that confirms all the quality of our young representative.

ATP Astana

Stefanos Tsitsipas [3]



Luca Nardi



Winner: Tsitsipas

10 ACES 4
49/73 (67%) FIRST SERVES 42/75 (56%)
41/49 (84%) 1ST SERVE POINTS WON 36/42 (86%)
17/24 (71%) 2ND SERVE POINTS WON 16/33 (48%)
2/2 (100%) BREAK POINTS SAVED 0/0 (0%)
6/42 (14%) 1ST SERVE RETURN POINTS WON 8/49 (16%)
17/33 (52%) 2ND SERVE RETURN POINTS WON 7/24 (29%)
0/0 (0%) BREAK POINTS CONVERTED 0/2 (0%)
58/73 (79%) SERVICE POINTS WON 52/75 (69%)
23/75 (31%) RETURN POINTS WON 15/73 (21%)
81/148 (55%) TOTAL POINTS WON 67/148 (45%)

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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