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Djokovic follows Nadal to early exit in Rome

ROME – Novak Djokovic's performance was so poor on Sunday (Monday in Manila) that even the 24-time Grand Slam champion admitted it was «concerning.»

Djokovic put on one of his worst displays at one of his favorite tournaments as he was upset by 29th-seeded Alejandro Tabilo in the third round of the Italian Open.

It was Djokovic's first match since accidentally getting knocked on the head by a water bottle while signing autographs after his opening win on Friday.

CAUSE OF CONCERN Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during a match against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome on May 12, 2024. AP PHOTO

«I managed to sleep okay. I had headaches. The next day or yesterday was pretty fine, so I thought it's okay. Maybe it is okay. Maybe it's not,» Djokovic said.

«I mean, the way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, no balance whatsoever on any shot. It's a bit concerning.»

Djokovic started off with a double-fault and it didn't get much better for the six-time Rome champion.


The top-ranked Djokovic lost his first two service games and went on to lose the match 6-2, 6-3 in just 68 minutes, handing Tabilo the victory when he double-faulted — his fifth of the match — amid boos at the Foro Italico.

«I'm trying to soak it all in and wake up right now,» Tabilo said after the biggest win of his career. «I was just trying to keep my nerves in and keep swinging. Towards the end my arms were getting tired but I was trying not to think about it.

»It's crazy, I just can't believe what's happened. I can't believe it right now. I don't think anyone can believe it."

The third-round loss marked Djokovic's worst performance at the Italian Open. He had lost only once before to an opponent outside the top 10 in Rome, where he had never gone out before the quarterfinals.


Djokovic followed Rafael Nadal to an early exit after the record 10-time Rome champion lost his third-round match to Hubert Hurkacz 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday.

While Djokovic had said he was «fine» after the water bottle incident, it was an unusually off-key performance from the Serb as he tries