Novak Djokovic suffers shock defeat at Italian Open

Holger Rune triumphed in three sets

By Web Desk
May 17, 2023
Defending champion and top seed Djokovic appeared physically under par - Reuters

Holger Rune defeated Novak Djokovic in three sets to qualify for the semi-finals of the ongoing Italian Open in Rome. 

The 20-year-old won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to clinch back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 victories against the number one men's player in the world. 

Six-time champion Djokovic bagged the second set immediately after a rain delay but Rune held his nerve to secure the win in two hours and 19 minutes.

"It's really a big win for me,” said Rune. “Obviously I did it last year in Paris as well, but every match is a huge challenge for me when I play against Novak. He's one of the greatest that's ever played the game. I knew I had to be at my best and I said it yesterday, and I was today. I'm super proud of myself and I enjoyed every moment out there."

Djokovic did not seem fully fit during the match and was treated by the physio at 2-1 in the second set.

Rune's record now stands at 17-4 across his past six ATP Masters 1000 events, which includes Rome.  

"I stay humble of course. I have a lot to achieve," said the Dane. "I think you should always be humble. I think I am, I hope so and I hope people see me this way. I'm a huge fighter on the court and I leave everything when I play my matches. I'm super proud I was able to get the victory today. I had to fight hard and play my best tennis.

"Huge credit to Novak, I'm a big fan of his. He's a huge inspiration and I wish him all the best."

Rune’s return game was on song throughout the match as he converted five of 10 break points that came his way. He also smashed 26 winners as compared to Djokovic's 22. 

"I know at the end, when Novak goes into this mode, nothing can come at him and he plays really free and aggressive,” said Rune. “When you want to close the match, it's really difficult. He puts a lot of pressure on you, but I managed to hit some good shots and stay brave, that was the most important.

“I think I was a little less brave in the second set but after the rain delay, I managed to come out and be brave even though I lost the set. I just told myself, 'Okay, it's all right, I just have to keep going.'"