ATP 500 Astana: Nardi super, tames Shevchenko and moves on to the second round (against Tsitsipas)

ATP 500 Astana: Nardi super, tames Shevchenko and moves on to the second round (against Tsitsipas)

Luca Nardi couldn’t have dreamed of a better debut at the ATP 500 in Astana. The 2003 class of Pesaro, after having splendidly passed the qualifiers of the important Kazakh tournament, passed the first round in the main draw by beating the Russian qualifier Alexander Shevchenko 7-6 6-2. A victory obtained with a remarkable performance, in crescendo, which showed all his potential and which leads him to the second round, where an important match against Stefanos Tsitsipas awaits him.

Nardi was good at overcoming an entry into the match that was anything but easy. The first ball did not go, the Russian was very aggressive in response, ready to explode the “dynamite” of his arm, with important lunges both with the right side of the line and with the backhand cross. Luca was very good at holding up, he canceled out of pure fight and containment as many as six break points in his first two rounds of service, showing both a good dexterity in defense and above all a good grit, hidden by that cold attitude to the limit inexpressive . Only appearance, because Nardi has pulled out his claws and has meshed with all the shots. The first ball started to work, as did the acceleration with the forehand and the frustrated backhand cross.

Gradually his tennis picked up pace and adapted perfectly to the fast but not always controlled outbursts of Shevchenko, a good player, able to accelerate the ball very well and keep a good pace but not so good at changing pace. There came the difference with Nardi: the blue played, at least up to one equal in the second set, an extremely shrewd game. He understood that he could handle the great pace of his rival well and therefore change it, not so much in terms of pure speed but in terms of angle and depth, placing in important moments the lunge that split the exchanges in his favor. He liked it a lot for how he came to take the net point, for how from the right he found the longline trip with great hand and ease, catching Shevchenko unprepared; and how he suddenly generated a combination of angle and speed with the backhand cross, thanks to which he overtook the Russian.

Nardi on the pitch does not seem particularly fast because he does not sprint, he arrives with great coordination reading the exchange well, and when he finds the best supports he manages to generate truly remarkable acceleration and precision. In the tiebreak of the first set he played the last two points as a champion, he took the first set and in the second he let go, faster and more aggressive, imposing his highest quality tennis. Fast and aggressive, really a very interesting Nardi, both from a technical and mental point of view.
Where he will certainly have to improve against more popular opponents is in the defensive throw-ins. When he arrives in pure racing he has too often opted for a recovery back. Against stronger and faster opponents, this solution will perhaps be too light and easy to attack. In addition, the second ball was often at the mercy of the opponent, then not always precise in the conclusion.

A nice victory, which gives him important points and a sort of entry “into society”. Luca has shown that he already has the tennis to play tournaments of this level, thus remaining focused, active and aggressive. Against Tsitsipas it will be a good test, a match that will allow him to taste the highest level and see where he is. With a positive attitude and the continuity of performance shown today, he can play a good match.

Marco Mazzoni

The match report

Nardi starts the match in service. After some good exchange points Luca makes some mistakes (and a double fault), with the aggressive Russian in response. Immediately he must defend break points. The blue serves well, between the external “kick” and a quick ball, it cancels three chances. With a nice acceleration from the backhand along the line he forces Shevchenko’s mistake, 1-0 Nardi. More comfortable the first game of the Russian, ready to enter the field with the forehand. 1 even. Luca is in trouble at the service, the first does not enter, Alexander pushes straight ahead and puts the young blue who finds himself under 0-40 on the ropes. Finally the first ball is there, with a very quick foray into the net and a volley that dies on the line saves the second break ball. Now Luca’s first works, and the difference is clear: he pushes from the center of the field with the forehand, moves his rival and goes to take the point. With 5 points a row, the Marchigiano goes forward 2-1. 6 break points saved so far. After the initial sparks, the set flows quickly on the batting turns. Nardi is quicker than advancing following the lunges, Shevchenko plays very deep and finds several direct points with the service. The rhythms of the exchange are quite high, few variations but the ball runs fast. After the first two very difficult games, now Nardi’s serve has picked up pace and with the forehand finds important accelerations. It is played a bit mirror: the first of the two who finds the thrust with the forehand tends to win the exchange. With an excellent turn of service on 4 all, Nardi moves forward 5-4. Now the pressure is on Shevchenko. The first of the Russian jammed, misses with the backhand, the game goes to the advantages (very good Luca to run ahead on 40-30). Two points from the set Nardi. The Pesaro player plays a timid answer, Shevchenko does not forgive. 5 even. The pressure rises, but Luca plays a very effective vertical tennis, forehand and backhand in acceleration along the line and away and net. 30-0. Play two second balls Nardi and the Russian is ready to attack, with the second the blue is struggling. With another excellent attack Luca earns the 6-5. The balance does not break, we go to the tiebreak. Nardi gets caught under the net in the first point, 1-0 and Shevchenko serves. With a deep cross response Luca takes the point back. At 3-2 there is a very hard exchange, the Russian commands, the blue defends himself strenuously, in the end Alexander closes under the net. It turns 3 even. Here is the first free mistake, Shevchenko shoots with the backhand, still out of breath from the very hard previous point. Serves on 4-3 Nardi. Risk a sudden serve and volley, it works. 5-3. Luca wastes the advantage with an error in the right in exchange, hit with little balance in the cross. Nardi finds a deadly cross backhand response, the ball touches the line, is double set point at 6-4, the first in response. He takes it with a touch of forward forehand that shows all the sensitivity of his hand. Luca’s splendid ending! The tiebreak wins.

The wave of Nardi continues at the start of the second set. He wins the first two points in response with a fabulous speed of execution and depth. With a very fast backhand cross response, Luca breaks the first two break points of the match in favor of 15-40. He risks the immediate attack, but it comes out short and has passed on the first; he wins a backhand cross skirmish on the second one, here is the BREAK for Nardi, ahead 1-0 and serve. The third double foul of the match costs him 15-30. With a great pace Luca wins a very hard exchange, but Shevchenko frees his arm, takes great risks in the exchange and gets a ball from the counter break. With a bad volley Nardi returns the break, 1 all, all to be redone. The Russian runs into a bad turn of service, two double fouls, errors with the forehand, he concedes other break points to Luca. He takes advantage of the third chance, with a nice aggressive response that causes the rival’s error. Another break, 2-1 forward and Nardi serve, who with a solid turn at bat consolidates the lead over 3-1. Well the blue on the serve, finds in the first point a touch of spectacular flight, then pushes hard with the forehand, goes 4-2. Strong of the moment, he risks profound answers and Shevchenko exaggerates in the push. 0-30. With a sensational right in the run along the line Nardi forces the Russian’s mistake, the third point won “by force”, is 0-40, three break points. With a winning answer you take the point of the double break. Next 5-2, serves to close. Nardi On Fire, he tries everything, and he succeeds in everything. He closes with an external service, excellent performance from all points of view. Having overcome the initial difficulties, Nardi rose in all areas of the game, ending up dominating the second set. Bravissimo Luca!

ATP Astana

Alexander Shevchenko



Luca Nardi



Winner: Nardi

5 ACES 1
39/69 (57%) FIRST SERVE 43/66 (65%)
24/39 (62%) 1ST SERVE POINTS WON 32/43 (74%)
13/30 (43%) 2ND SERVE POINTS WON 13/23 (57%)
3/6 (50%) BREAK POINTS SAVED 6/7 (86%)
11/43 (26%) 1ST SERVE RETURN POINTS WON 15/39 (38%)
10/23 (43%) 2ND SERVE RETURN POINTS WON 17/30 (57%)
1/7 (14%) BREAK POINTS CONVERTED 3/6 (50%)
37/69 (54%) SERVICE POINTS WON 45/66 (68%)
21/66 (32%) RETURN POINTS WON32/69 (46%)
58/135 (43%) TOTAL POINTS WON 77/135 (57%)


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