Novak Djokovic loses to Holger Rune in the Italian Open 2023 in Rome.
Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the Italian Open in the quarterfinals by rising Danish sensation Holger Rune, his quickest defeat since 2013.
On the Rome clay, the Serb top seed, who turns 36 next week, was defeated 6-2 4-6 6-2 by 20-year-old Rune.
Djokovic was attempting to win his seventh title in Rome as he prepares for the French Open on May 28.
The seventh seed Next, Rune will face either Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud or Argentine 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo.
Djokovic’s preparations for the French Open have been hampered by injury, with him missing the recent Madrid Open due to an elbow issue and returning to the court in Rome to work on form and fitness.
At Roland Garros, the 22-time Grand Slam champion will have the opportunity to pass Rafael Nadal for the most men’s major titles of all time.
Djokovic was going through the motions in Rome, having won his first three matches against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Grigor Dimitrov, and British number one Cameron Norrie.
During a tense last-16 match against Norrie, Djokovic needed treatment for an ailment that he was reluctant to reveal later.
Djokovic, who will be replaced as world number one by Carlos Alcaraz of Spain next week, also need a medical timeout against Rune early in the second set.
While this may have contributed to his poor performance, the fundamental cause for his defeat was his inability to deal with the issues given by the Dane.
Rune demonstrated why he is expected to win some of the sport’s most prestigious awards, showcasing confidence in his shot-making to trade punches with Djokovic and also demonstrating his tremendous mental resilience.
Rune lost focus in the second set after a line call went against him after sprinting to the first set in 38 minutes.