Novak Djokovic suffered another setback in his preparations for the French Open when he lost to Holger Rune in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, despite being the top-ranked player in the world.
In rainy conditions, 20-year-old Rune emerged victorious in Rome with a score of 6-2 4-6 6-2, marking his second back-to-back win against Djokovic following his previous victory at the Paris Masters in November.
As per the ATP, the Italian Open final will not feature Djokovic or Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004.
“It’s a huge victory for me,” said world No. 7 Rune in an interview with the ATP Tour. “I also achieved this last year in Paris, but every match against Novak is a major challenge for me. He is one of the all-time greatest players in the sport.”
“I was aware that I needed to perform at my utmost capability, and I did just that today. I am incredibly proud of myself and I savored every minute on the field. I remain grounded, as there is still much for me to accomplish. I believe it is important to always maintain humility. I strive to embody this quality and I hope others perceive me in this manner.”
I am a fierce competitor on the court, giving my all in every match. Today, I am incredibly proud to have achieved victory. I had to push through and perform my very best tennis. I must give credit to Novak, as I am a great admirer of his. He is a tremendous source of inspiration and I sincerely wish him the best.
Djokovic’s recent performance on clay courts has been disappointing, as he has been unable to progress past the quarterfinals in all three tournaments leading up to the French Open on May 28th. This defeat marks another setback for him on this surface.
The Serbian player, who has won six times in Rome, seemed to be facing physical difficulties during the game and had to take a break for medical attention. After a rain delay, he managed to win the second set.
Djokovic was making his return to the court following his absence from the recent Madrid Open due to an elbow injury and the 22-time grand slam champion still looked well below his best.
Credit should be given to Rune for an exceptional performance that solidifies his position as a top contender at Roland Garros.
The Danish player, making his debut at the Italian Open, will face either Casper Ruud or Francisco Cerundolo in the semifinals as he aims to win his second Masters 1000 title at the age of 20.