Novak Djokovic Says Being Hit in Head Impacted Him in Loss to Tabilo at Italian Open

TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

Novak Djokovic believes extenuating circumstances played a role in his third-round upset at the hands of No. 29 Alejandro Tabilo in the Italian Open.

The top-ranked player in the world lost in straight sets, 2-6, 3-6. He said after the match he still wasn’t feeling right after being hit in the head by a water bottle Friday.

“That has really impacted me a lot,” the 24-time Grand Slam winner told reporters. “After that I got medical care, been through half-an-hour, an hour of nausea, dizziness and blood. I managed to sleep OK. I had headaches. The next day, or yesterday, was pretty fine, so I thought it’s OK. Maybe it is OK, 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.”

Djokovic was signing autographs after his second-round victory over Corentin Moutet when he was accidentally struck by the metal bottle, which had fallen out of a fan’s backpack.

He made light of the incident Saturday, arriving at the facilities with a bicycle helmet on.

Based on his comments Sunday, this is no laughing matter anymore for Djokovic.

The 36-year-old certainly didn’t look like his usual self against Tabilo. He quickly fell behind 0-4 in the first set after twice dropping serve and then lost his first service game to open the second set.

Djokovic finished with five double faults and had 14 winners to 12 unforced errors.

The Italian Open is traditionally the final tune-up for tennis’ top stars before the French Open gets underway.

An early exit doesn’t necessarily portend danger. Last year, Djokovic rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to Holger Rune in Rome to collect a third title at Roland-Garros later in the month.

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