Home Sports Djokovic to undergo scans as shock Rome exit follows bottle drama

Djokovic to undergo scans as shock Rome exit follows bottle drama


Novak Djokovic

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo at the Men’s ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 12, 2024. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Novak Djokovic described his shock third-round elimination from the Rome Open by Alejandro Tabilo on Sunday as “concerning”, two days after he was hit on the head by a bottle which he said has caused nausea and dizzy spells.

Djokovic’s bid for a record-extending 41st Masters 1000 title was ended in just over an hour by Chilean Tabilo, who is ranked 32nd in the world and claimed his first win over a top-10 opponent, 6-2, 6-3.

The 24-time Grand Slam winner said that his subdued performance on a court where he has won six titles might have been due to the blow suffered while greeting fans on Friday night.

READ: Djokovic says he is ready to peak at French Open

He had initially laughed off being accidentally struck on the head by a hard water bottle following his straightforward second-round win over Corentin Moutet, by wearing a cycling crash helmet to training on Saturday morning.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that. Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same,” Djokovic told reporters.

“Today under high stress, it was quite bad — not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.”

Djokovic also said that he would have scans to “see what’s going on” before the French Open in Paris, where he will head not just worried by the after-effects of the bottle incident but also his form.

‘Different player’

The last time Djokovic got to Roland Garros without a title to his name that season was in 2018, when his first honor of the campaign came at Wimbledon.

With the French Open getting underway in two weeks and where he is the defending champion, Djokovic admitted that “everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win” a 25th Grand Slam.

“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes,” added Djokovic. “It’s a bit concerning.”

READ: Djokovic skips Madrid open, Nadal to face teen Blanch

Djokovic’s early elimination means that the last major men’s tournament before Roland Garros is now wide open with third seed Alexander Zverev beating home hope Luciano Darderi, ranked 54th in the world, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.

Tabilo was a worthy winner against Djokovic after tearing into his superstar opponent, claiming the biggest win of his career in remarkable style by hitting 22 winners, making just four unforced errors and not facing a single break point.

“Honestly in no moment was I like, Okay, I can win this,” said a delighted Tabilo.

“I was playing incredible tennis. Just wanted to keep that level… The whole match I was just trying to take it point by point, not think about the score. Every point was like the start of the match.”

Sabalenka v Svitolina

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka will face Elina Svitolina for the first time since their handshake row at last year’s French Open after both cruised into the last women’s last 16.

Second seed Sabalenka beat Dayana Yastremska, 6-4, 6-2 to set up a clash in the next round with Svitolina, a two-time winner at the Foro Italico, who comfortably beat Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-3.

Svitolina accused Belarusian Sabalenka of inflaming tensions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war for waiting at the net for a handshake after beating Ukrainian Svitolina in the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2023.

Svitolina had already insisted she was not going to offer one, as all Ukraine players refused to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian rivals in protest at the ongoing war.

Sabalenka, who has never won in Rome but is a two-time champion on the Madrid clay, looks in good shape to at least match her 2022 run to the semi-finals.

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Earlier fifth seed Maria Sakkari lined up a probable last-16 clash with Victoria Azarenka who beat 80th-ranked Egyptian Mayar Sherif 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.

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