Tabilo beats Djokovic in huge upset at Italian Open

The Serb blamed Friday's incident when he was accidentally struck on the head by a fan's water bottle while signing autographs

By Reuters

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic acknowledges the fans as he leaves the court after losing his round of 32 match against Chile's Alejandro Tabilo. — Reuters
Serbia's Novak Djokovic acknowledges the fans as he leaves the court after losing his round of 32 match against Chile's Alejandro Tabilo. — Reuters

Published: Sun 12 May 2024, 8:09 PM

Chile's Alejandro Tabilo claimed the biggest win of his career when he beat world number one Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3 in the third round of the Italian Open in a match that lasted just 67 minutes on Sunday, two days after the Serbian was hit on the head by a water bottle.

Djokovic has won the tournament six times, with his last title coming in 2022, but Tabilo broke the top seed four times on Centre Court while not conceding a single break point.


Djokovic looked far from his best and the 36-year-old blamed Friday's "unfortunate" incident where he was accidentally struck on the head by a fan's water bottle while signing autographs after his second-round win.

"That has really impacted me a lot. After that I got medical care, been through half-an-hour, an hour of nausea, dizziness and blood," Djokovic told a news conference, adding that he would go for scans later.


"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.

"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."

The victory made the 26-year-old Tabilo -- who won a Challenger Tour tournament two weeks ago -- the first Chilean in 17 years to beat a world number one since Fernando Gonzalez beat Roger Federer at the ATP Finals in 2007.

"It's incredible. I came on court just looking around and soaking it all in, trying to process everything. I'm trying to wake up right now," said Tabilo, who is ranked number 32 in the world.

The result also means Djokovic -- who made a double fault on match point -- has failed to reach a single final in 2024 and has played only six matches on clay in the build-up to the French Open.

The Serbian had reached the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters but a premature exit in Rome could hamper his preparations for Roland Garros where the year's second Grand Slam begins on May 26.

When asked about his French Open chances, Djokovic said: "Everything needs to be better for me to have at least a chance to win it."

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