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 yesterday, 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.
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 semi-finals 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.”
Also yesterday, Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the fourth round for the first time since 2020 on Sunday when he overcame French qualifier Terence Atmane 7-6(3), 6-3. The eighth-seeded Bulgarian was made to work hard in the hot conditions in Rome, where he edged Atmane in a tight first set.
He then played with more freedom in the second set to seal victory after one hour and 44 minutes in the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head clash.
“For the past five days I have been playing lefties, so it will be nice to get a righty, but it is what it is,” said Dimitrov, who beat lefty Yoshihito Nishioka in his opening match. “It was a very difficult match. Probably one of the most difficult matches this year. The conditions were so difficult. I rolled my ankle on one side, there was not much clay left.
“You have to adapt and today that is what I did.
“I played an OK game and that was enough but at the same time I am not happy with where my game is at. But I keep winning matches like this and that is what counts.”
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