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Tabilo Stuns World No. 1 Djokovic in Rome Upset

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic lost to Alejandro Tabilo in a 67-minute stunner. Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty

The Eternal City posed persistent pain for Novak Djokovic.

Beaned by a fan’s water bottle after his opening win, world No. 1 Djokovic was booted out of Rome in shocking fashion today.

World No. 32 Alejandro Tabilo stunned Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 in one of the most surprising setbacks of Djokovic’s Rome career.

“It’s incredible,” Tabilo said after the victory, his first against any player inside the Top 10, let alone a World No.1 with 24 major titles to his name. “I’m still trying to process everything.

“I was just trying to keep my nerves in – it’s crazy, I can’t believe what just happened.”

With his win Tabilo becomes the first man from Chile to defeat a World No.1 since 2007, when Fernando Gonzalez defeated Roger Federer at the season ending Masters Cup.

An erratic Djokovic double faulted away opening breaks in the first and second set then dumped his fifth double fault to end a wild and weird 67-minute upset that left some fans whistling.

“Congratulations to my opponent,” Djokovic told the media in Rome. “It’s the first time I faced him. Great player. Really quality player. All-around game.

“Yeah, I just wasn’t able to find any kind of good feelings on the court, to be honest, with striking the ball. Yeah, I was completely off.”

Grand Slam king Djokovic has played pristine tennis at times seizing six Rome championships, the tournament frequently serving as a springboard to a brilliant summer.

Today, he was far from his best.

Djokovic repeatedly resorted to the drop shot from obscure areas of the court, double-faulted himself into oblivion and had no answers for the crackling Tabilo forehand.

You wonder if the water bottle off the head damaged Djokovic as this was such an uncharacteristically sloppy performance in a subpar season that has seen his team dissolve and his resolve tested by opponents who seem to have no fear of the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

The reigning Roland Garros champion said he felt out of sorts and will have his head checked.

“I have to check that,” Djokovic said when asked if there was lingering damage from the bottle blow. “Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday.

“I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same. Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination.

“[I was a] completely different player from what it was two nights ago. Could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on.”

Yes, Djokovic was a shell of himself today—remember this seismic upset comes a day after Hubert Hurkacz hammered king of clay Rafael Nadal in straight sets—but credit Tabilo for recognizing the world No. 1 was reeling and vulnerable and knocking him out.