In pain and in the rain, Novak Djokovic fell this Wednesday against Holger Rune in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters (2-6, 6-4 and 2-6). The Serbian tennis player, still number one in the world until next Monday, went from less to more and less again in a match that had to be suspended due to rain when Nole performed better than his rival. The Dane mercilessly prevailed during the first and third sets against the six-time champion at the Foro Italico, who is already looking at Roland Garros and for whom he hopes to be at the highest level, after missing the Madrid Masters due to his elbow injury.
Rune overcame the first game of the match with relative ease, in which he broke the serve of a troubled Djokovic with discomfort that made it difficult for him to reach some balls. In the second set, the Serb revved up to catch up with the Dane, but not enough to clearly surpass him. Rune, aware of Nole’s physical discomfort, forced his rival to stretch and force to get to some blows.
Djokovic did not show his best level by far, but he stood up to Rune, waiting for his moment. Halfway through the second set, after a stop by the Serbian with the physiotherapist, events turned against the Dane. A limit ball on the line, much discussed by Rune with the judge, gave him the deuce Djokovic, who two points later broke his rival’s serve for the first time in the match. The Serbian also put the public in his pocket, which at times chanted his name: “Nooole, Nooole!”.
The Dane felt the pressure, his anger was transmitted to his game and he began to make mistakes that he had not had before. With Nole at 5-2, Rune had another run-in with the referee during the break between games, while he was yelling for the physio, forcing the break to be extended by a few minutes. After the return, the Dane took two games in a row and also began to win over the public, who no longer applauded one side. The rain, which appeared timidly at the start of the second set, began to fall harder and forced the match to be suspended for an hour. With a 5-4 on the scoreboard, the game could fall on the side of any of the tennis players.
After the restart, Djokovic took the game he needed to force the third and final set. The Serb had cooled down during the break and he noticed it. Rune prevailed from the first game and overwhelmed the Serbian, who resisted, but could not with the intensity of his rival. When Nole was able to win his first game, the Dane was already leading by four, which he ended up beating number one and is already in the semifinals.
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