Seventh-ranked Holger Rune, who is just 20-year-old defeated Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in a gripping quarterfinal of the Italian Open on Wednesday.
After a week of rain in otherwise sunny Rome, the Serbian tennis icon, who will move down to second place in the ATP rankings on Monday behind Carlos Alcaraz, said that he was outplayed under adverse weather conditions.
Rune will face either world number four Casper Ruud or the Argentine Francisco Cerundolo in the semi-finals after knocking out the 22-time Grand Slam winner.
After the defeat to the 20-year-old Danish fast-rising tennis star, Djokovic said, “This is probably the coldest, wettest tournament I’ve ever played here in Rome.
“I don’t recall so many days in a row (of) raining. In these conditions, it’s very difficult to get the ball past him.
“He [Holger Rune] is a very talented, dynamic player – he was too good for me for most of the match.”
The six-time Italian Open champion, Novak Djokovic, entered the game suffering from an unspecified illness.
Rain forced the suspension of play for over an hour. Djokovic asked for additional towels shortly after the match started so he could cushion his lower back while sitting on the bench for the bulk of the contest.
In the most recent weeks, the 35-year-old tennis star has also been dealing with right elbow soreness, which has complicated his preparation for Roland Garros and prevented him from competing in the Madrid tournament.
After the third game of the second set, the trainer and match doctor attended to him and gave him a painkiller before he resumed.
“This is really a big win for me,” Rune said. “Every match against Novak is a huge challenge. He’s one of the greatest to ever play the game.
“I was proud of myself and enjoyed every minute out there.
“I have to stay humble, I still have a lot to achieve. I’m a huge fighter on court, I leave everything out there. I had to fight hard and play my best tennis.
“I’m a big fan of Novak; he’s a huge inspiration. He puts huge pressure on you — I had to stay brave.”