Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals of the Italian Open, but not without taking some cheeky sleds from the Italian public.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic overtook Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka in two sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open on Thursday as he sought his sixth title in Rome.
Djokovic is in his record 369th week as world number one and must reach at least the semifinals to avoid losing his first place in the standings to Daniil Medvedev.
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Wawrinka, whose first round win over Reilly Opelka was his first win in 15 months, was no match for seeded Djokovic and beyond some classic passing passes offered little resistance.
“It’s great to see Stan again… You can see that physically he’s not where he wants to be yet, but still he’s Stan Wawrinka. He can hurt you if you give him time, ”Djokovic said after the match.
But the 20-time Grand Slam champion was brutally mocked by a trio of spectators who wore shirts that mocked his infamous visa saga ahead of this year’s Australian Open.
The three spectators wore T-shirts with a photo of Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke saying: “Melbourne ’22, Gracias King”.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Rafael Nadal fell from the Italian Open in the third round with Roma’s 10-time winner complaining of a recurring foot problem after a shock defeat 1-6, 7-5, 6- 2 against Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Defeat in Rome for “King of Clay” Nadal questions his prospects at the next French Open, where he has been crowned champion 13 times, but faces the threat of teenage phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz.
The 35-year-old, who had reached at least the quarter-finals each year in Rome since 2008, had been out for six weeks with a rib injury before returning for last week’s tournament in Madrid.
Nadal started limping in the third set, later telling reporters that a foot problem had flared up during the second set, but he couldn’t say if he would be able to take part in Roland Garros.
“I am not injured, I am a player who lives with an injury. That’s it, ”Nadal told reporters.
“It is something that unfortunately exists and my day to day is difficult. I’m trying, but obviously it’s hard for me. Many days I cannot practice.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Denis … today it’s so well done to him for him.”
For the first time since August 2004, Nadal holds zero ATP clay court titles.
Nadal has won the all-time record of 21 Grand Slam titles in a brilliant two-decade career that could now finally reach its decline.
World number 16 Shapovalov, who had pushed Nadal all the way when he was eliminated at this stage of the tournament last year, will now face Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals.
“It sure sucked to see him suffer in the end … He brings so much to our sport, so hopefully he’s fit and ready for the Frenchman,” said Shapovalov.
“It’s super satisfying to beat the best player of all time on clay.”
– with AFP
Originally published as world n. 1 Novak Djokovic brutally mocked by cheeky tennis fans