Novak Djokovic drops 'concerning' straight-sets loss 2 days after water bottle impact left him with 'nausea, dizziness'

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his match against Chile's Alejandro Tabilo at the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 12, 2024. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

Two days after a water bottle was dropped on his head, Novak Djokovic suffered a straight-sets loss at the Italian Open and said afterward that he feels like a “different player.”

World No. 29 Alejandro Tabilo cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Djokovic on Sunday, sending the No. 1 player in the world to an early exit in the Round of 32 and stunning the Rome crowd.

After the loss, Djokovic told reporters that he was still feeling the effects of the water bottle impact that he said caused “nausea, dizziness and blood” in its immediate aftermath.

“It was unexpected, obviously,” Djokovic said Sunday. “I wasn’t even looking up. Then I felt a very strong hit in the head. That has really impacted me a lot. …

“I’ve been through half an hour, hour of nausea, dizziness and blood and a lot of different things. I managed to sleep OK. I had headaches. The next day — or yesterday — was pretty fine. So I though, you know, it’s OK.”

He went on to describe his condition as “concerning” and said that he felt like a different player on the court Sunday afternoon.

“Maybe it is OK,” Djokovic continued. “Maybe it’s not. The way I felt on the court today was just completely from — it’s like a different player entered in my shoes. No rhythm, no tempo, no balance whatsoever on any shot. So, it’s a bit concerning.”

The water bottle incident took place Friday as Djokovic left the court following his 6-3, 6-1 win over Corentin Moutet. He stopped by the tunnel to sign autographs for fans, and a water bottle fell from the stands onto the top of his head.

Another angle showed the bottle slip out of a fan’s backpack as he leaned over in search of Djokovic’s attention.

Djokovic grabbed his head, then knelt down to the court after the impact. He was then helped through the tunnel and back to the locker room. He later tweeted that he was “fine” and resting with an ice pack at his hotel.

On Saturday, he showed up on his off day to the tournament in good spirits, jokingly wearing a bike helmet while greeting fans and signing autographs.

His level of concern took on a different tone following Sunday’s loss. He’ll now have two weeks off before the May 26 start of the French Open main draw in search of his 25th Grand Slam title.

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