Novak Djokovic’s readiness for the French Open suffered another setback on Wednesday when he lost to Holger Rune in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open.
Rune, who is 20 years old, emerged victorious in a match affected by wet weather in Rome. He defeated Djokovic with a score of 6-2 4-6 6-2, securing his second consecutive win against him after their previous meeting at the Paris Masters final in November.
According to the ATP, this year’s Italian Open final will be the first one without either Djokovic or Rafael Nadal since 2004.
“I am incredibly grateful for this win,” said world No. 7 Rune in an interview with the ATP Tour. “While I have achieved a similar feat in Paris last year, every match against Novak is a daunting challenge. He is undeniably one of the greatest players in the history of the game.”
“I was aware that I needed to perform at my peak today, and I did just that. I am extremely proud of myself and I savored every moment on the field. I remain humble, as I have many more goals to accomplish. In my opinion, it is important to always maintain humility. I believe I do, and I hope others see me in this light.”
“I am a fierce competitor on the tennis court, giving my all during every match. I am extremely proud to have achieved victory today. It was a tough battle, requiring me to play at my highest level. I must give credit to Novak, as I am a great admirer of his. He is a tremendous source of inspiration and I wish him the best.”
Djokovic’s recent loss adds to his string of underwhelming performances on clay courts. He has yet to make it past the quarterfinals in any of his three tournaments on this surface leading up to the French Open, which commences on May 28th.
The player from Serbia, who has won six times in Rome, seemed to be having physical difficulties during the game. They had to take a break for medical reasons before continuing to win the second set after a rain delay.
After taking time off due to an elbow injury, Djokovic returned to the court for the first time at the Madrid Open. However, the 22-time grand slam champion did not perform at his usual level.
Rune deserves credit for his impressive performance at Roland Garros, solidifying his position as one of the top contenders for the title.
The Danish player, participating in his debut Italian Open, will face either Casper Ruud or Francisco Cerundolo in the semifinals as the 20-year-old aims to win his second Masters 1000 title.