WATCH: Novak Djokovic bleeding after being struck by water bottle at Rome Open

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns to France's Corentin Moutet during the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 10, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns to France's Corentin Moutet during the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 10, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Published May 11, 2024


Novak Djokovic's fast start at the Rome Open was overshadowed on Friday after the tennis icon was struck with a hard plastic water bottle while greeting fans following his 6-3, 6-1 win over France's Corentin Moutet.

World number one Djokovic was left crouched on the ground in agony as the bottle hit him on the back of the head as he was signing autographs while he exited the centre court at the Foro Italico.

Djokovic was then led from the arena on foot by security staff who covered the 24-time Grand Slam winner while he made his way into the bowels of the stands.

— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) May 10, 2024

The ATP did not respond to AFP's request for an update on Djokovic's condition, only announcing that he would not speak to the media on Friday evening.

However a spokesman for the Italian tennis federation (FITP) told AFP that Djokovic had been taken back to his hotel with a lightly bleeding head and that there is no risk that he will withdraw from the tournament.

The spokesman said that Djokovic did not need stitches and that the bottle likely fell while a fan tried to get the player's attention, adding that security camera footage is being consulted to help identify the culprit.

"His condition is not a cause for concern," said organisers in a short statement before then sending media a video in which it appears that the bottle accidentally slipped from a spectator's grasp before landing on Djokovic's head.

Djokovic retiring would be a disaster for organisers of the last major tournament before the French Open as it is already missing two of its biggest stars with Italian world number two Jannik Sinner and third-ranked Carlos Alcaraz both withdrawing from the men's draw before the start.

Home fans have also been deprived of cheering on Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti who both pulled out, Musetti while losing to France's Terence Atmane on Friday morning.

Should Djokovic be OK as the FITP said, he will face Chile's Alejandro Tabilo in the third round with a great chance to add to his array of titles at the Foro Italico, where only Rafael Nadal has won more with 10.

The Serbian has made no secret in the past that he loves playing in Italy and with a clutch of big names either out injured or struggling he will fancy his chances of a record-extending 41st Masters 1000 crown.

One of Djokovic's potential threats, third seed Alexander Zverev, breezed into the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Australia's Aleksandar Vukic.

Both Casper Ruud and Zverev were put on Djokovic's side of the draw and German Zverev could face the tournament favourite in the last four.

"I know I'm the sort of player who can lose to anyone, I've unfortunately done that in the past but I also know that I'm a player that once I do find my rhythm I can beat anyone and I hope this can be the week where I find it," said Zverev after his win.

Ons Jabeur's tough 2024 continued after being dumped out of the women's tournament in the second round by Sofia Kenin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

World number nine Jabeur was beaten by unseeded American Kenin in a gruelling match which lasted two hours and 17 minutes in the hot Rome sunshine.

Tunisia's Jabeur, who in 2022 became the first Arab player to win a WTA 1000 title, looked to be on the right track after reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid.

But she slumped to a poor defeat on Friday, continuing a dreadful season so far in which the 29-year-old has had to deal with a chronic knee injury resurfacing.

Jabeur has a losing record for the year, a far cry from the woman who looked like she had the world at her feet ahead of last year's Wimbledon final, which she lost in straight sets to unfancied Marketa Vondrousova after blasting through a series of Grand Slam champions.