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Novak Djokovic fails to defend Italian Open title after being upset by Holger Rune in quarterfinal match

Novak Djokovic will not defend his title at the Italian Open this year after being upset by 20-year-old Danish tennis player Holger Rune on Wednesday. 

Djokovic, who advanced to his 17th consecutive quarterfinal match at the Italian Open after defeating Cameron Norrie on Tuesday, was eliminated following a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 loss to Rune. 

Novak Djokovic during the match against Holger Rune at the Italian Open on May 17, 2023, in Rome. (Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

This was Djokovic’s second loss to Rune in six months and comes just ahead of the French Open, where Rune is eyeing his first-career Grand Slam. 

NOVAK DJOKOVIC CALLS OUT ITALIAN OPEN OPPONENT OVER LACK OF SPORTSMANSHIP AFTER GETTING HIT BY BALL

“I want to win a Grand Slam this year,” Rune told reporters after the match. “Obviously I hope it can be achieved at the French Open. If not, I hope to make it in the other two Grand Slams.”

Djokovic pointed to poor weather conditions in Rome, saying that it created “slower” play. The match was suspended for more than an hour because of rain.

“Slower conditions these days – I think this is probably the coldest and the wettest tournament I’ve ever played here in Rome.… Obviously, in this kind of conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him.” 

The Italian Open is delayed by rain

Workers cover the central court in tarp as the rain interrupts a quarterfinals match at the Italian Open between Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune in Rome on May 17, 2023. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

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“He was just better. He played too good for me for most part of the match,” Djokovic added. “He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”

Djokovic has won six titles in Rome. Only Rafael Nadal has more wins with 10. 

Holger Rune and Novak Djokovic shake hands ay center court after their quarterfinal match

Holger Rune greets Novak Djokovic after winning their match on May 17, 2023, in Rome. (Antonietta Baldassarre/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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“I’m going to ask him [for] tips,” Djokovic joked when asked by one reporter if he had any tips for Rune as they head next to Roland Garros. 

“He beat me twice when we played against each other, so. I have no tips for him. So far he’s doing very well.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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