Novak Djokovic booed after ‘flat, underwhelming, shocking’ performance during Rome upset

Shahida Jacobs
A frustrated Novak Djokovic
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his tennis match

Alejandro Tabilo caused the biggest upset of his career as he stunned Novak Djokovic in the third round of the Italian Open and spectators at Foro Italico and tennis commentators and fans online were confounded by the manner in which the world No 1 went down on Sunday.

Djokovic losing is perhaps not such a big shock as he has struggled this year with the Tabilo handing him his fifth loss of the season, but his performance left many surprised.

Facing a top-five opponent for the first time in his career, Tabilo claimed a stunning 6-2, 6-3 victory in just one hour and seven minutes with the defeat Djokovic’s fastest-ever on a clay court at ATP Tour level, beating the previous1h15m record against Roger Federer at the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters.

Both sets took just over 30 minutes to complete as the Chilean dominated from start to finish as Tabilo raced into a 4-0 lead after breaking in games one and three before serving out the set to love.

But Djokovic is the master of turning things around in quick fashion, but there was no response from the 24-time Grand Slam in the second set as his opponent got another break in the opening game.

The 29th seed sealed the deal for this massive win as Djokovic double faulted when match point down with the world No 1 slumping to yet another loss in 2024.

Loud boos rang around Centre Court at the completion of the match, but they were not for the victorious Tabilo as he was applauded after the traditional post-match handshake.

And the reaction to Djokovic’s “flat” display was equally harsh with one journalist describing it as “one of the worst Djokovic performances ever” and another said it was “a shocking performance”.

Naturally, it also once again raised questions about whether or not the 36-year-old has lost his motivation.

The tennis great will head to Roland Garros with a 12-4 win-loss record and he will start the clay-court Grand Slam without a title to his name, only the second time it has happened since he won his maiden trophy back in 2006.

For Tabilo it is the stuff of dreams as he reached the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.

“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,” he said.

Tabilo joined Alex de Minaur, Jannik Sinner, Luca Nardi and Casper Ruud as the players to beat Djokovic so far this year.

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