Djokovic and his defeat after bottle incident: “I didn’t do any scans, now I feel like I should”

Clearly not himself in his straight-sets defeat against Alejandro Tabilo, Novak Djokovic may have been more affected by his head injury than previously thought

Novak Djokovic, 2024 Novak Djokovic, 2024 | © Norbert Scanella / Panoramic
Internazionali BNL d'Italia •Third round • completed
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In the case of the bottle that accidentally fell on Novak Djokovic‘s head on Friday, there’s what the official communication said.

“His condition is not a cause for concern” – tournament management.

“I’m fine” – Djokovic brushing off worries with a comic donning of a cycle helmet on Saturday.

But things are probably more complex for the world No 1. On Friday night, someone close to the player wrote to us: “We hope he’ll be fine.” And that hope has not been translated into reality.

Knocked out in the Rome third round by Alejandro Tabilo (6-2, 6-3), displaying a level of play and above all commitment almost appalling for someone of his level, Djokovic revealed that the impact had really affected him on Friday evening (nausea, headache). After his match, the Serb delivered a short press conference, rich in both clear statements and heavy hints, so here are the key points.

How did Djokovic rate his performance?

“I was completely off.”

Novak Djokovic saw the same match as you. If he only scored five games (and 17 points in the first set!) against Tabilo, it’s both because the Chilean left-hander delivered a match worthy of his status as the 20th player in the world in 2024 in the Race, and because Djokovic had nothing to offer in return.

Here’s what Djokovic said: “Congratulations to my opponent. 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. I mean, the way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, no balance whatsoever on any shot. It’s a bit concerning.”

Novak Djokovic and Alejandro Tabilo
Novak Djokovic and Alejandro Tabilo (Inside/Panoramic)

Did the bottle incident on Friday affect his performance?

“I have to check that.”

In contrast to the statements issued since Friday, Djokovic did not rule out that the accident that followed his victory over Corentin Moutet had affected his game, or even his health, two days after the event.

Here’s what Djokovic said: “I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that. 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. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.

“Could be [the bottle incident]. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on.”

How did Djokovic feel after the incident?

“That has, yeah, really impacted me a lot.”

After Friday night, the next time we saw Djokovic was that little joke with the bicycle helmet, signing autographs before his training session on Saturday. But after his defeat in Rome, he spoke more about how he felt after the hit to his head – not blaming anyone, but admitting some subsequent physical problems.

Here’s what Djokovic said: “I mean, I think in the video you saw it very clearly. It was a very unfortunate, unlucky situation for me. It was an accident where that guy leaned over the fence, and the bottle dropped from his rucksack and landed directly on my head.

“It was unexpected obviously. I wasn’t even looking up. Then I felt a very strong hit in the head. That has, yeah, really impacted me a lot. After that I got the medical care. Been through half an hour, an hour of nausea, dizziness, blood, a lot of different things. I managed to sleep okay. I had headaches. The next day or yesterday was pretty fine, so I thought it’s okay. Maybe it is okay. Maybe it’s not.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic in Rome (Alessandra Tarantino/AP/SIPA)

What is Djokovic’s mindset ahead of Roland-Garros?

“Same like always!”

Djokovic, with a semi-final appearance in Monte-Carlo and a single match win in Rome, is having his worst clay-court season since 2006. Worse still: in five tournaments this year, he has played no finals, made just two semi-finals, and won just 12 matches, losing five, a far cry from his usual standards. Asked about his state of mind two weeks before the French Open, he replied with three words: “Same like always,” probably referring to his answer given in Monte-Carlo in 2023 after his defeat by Musetti, when he said he was confident, in one word, of his ability to win the French Open. He did win the tournament – but that was six weeks later.

Here’s what Djokovic said: “Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it.”

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