Novak Djokovic ‘honoured’ to play in front of Jose Mourinho at Italian Open

Novak Djokovic - Monte Carlo Masters 2022

Novak Djokovic has revealed he felt “honoured” that legendary football manager Jose Mourinho came to watch his opening match at the 2023 Italian Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion described Mourinho as an “avid tennis fan”, while labelling him as one of the greatest ever football coaches.

Mourinho currently manages Serie A side AS Roma, who play in the Italian capital – where the ATP Masters 1000 tournament is held. The 60-year-old Portuguese coached Real Madrid, who the Serbian is a supporter of, from 2010 to 2013.

With the ‘Special One’ watching on, Djokovic survived a difficult opening set to defeat world No 61 Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6(5), 6-2 in the second round of the Italian Open.

Speaking in a press conference following his victory against the 23-year-old Argentine, the 35-year-old explained this was not the first time Mourinho has been in attendance for one of his matches.

“Yes, I met him. I met him more than a few times in the past. He was coming to watch me play in London, especially in the World Tour Finals. We had the tournament there for many years, and he was coaching in London, so he was coming to watch,” Djokovic said.

“He’s an avid tennis fan. And, of course, one of the greatest football coaches that we have, not just today, but in history. So I’m really honoured that he’s coming to watch, watch my matches. I really appreciate that. A very, very nice person and always was very kind to me and my team.”

The world No 1 then expressed his desire to watch Mourinho’s Roma team play in the future, while expressing his appreciation for the Portuguese.

“Hopefully, I can return the favour and go watch his team when he’s coaching because I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Maybe, maybe Real Madrid. When he was in Madrid, I went to watch a couple of times and yeah, just the ‘Special One’, as they call him, came to see me. So I’m very happy. Thank you,” the Serbian added.

Djokovic will play world No 33 Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the Italian Open today. He holds a 10-1 head-to-head record against the 31-year-old Bulgarian.

The Serbian is the defending champion in Rome, having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s final, and has won the event six times.

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