Djokovic ‘fine’ after bottle strike drama at Rome Open

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Novak Djokovic insisted on Saturday that he was “fine” and ready to play after being hit on the head by a water bottle as he signed autographs following his second-round win at the Rome Open.

World number one Djokovic was left crouched on the ground in agony on Friday as the bottle struck him on the back of the head as he greeted fans on centre court at the Foro Italico.

“Thank you for the messages of concern,” Djokovic wrote Saturday on X, formerly Twitter. “This was an accident and I am fine resting at the hotel with an ice pack. See you all on Sunday.”

The 36-year-old had gotten off to a winning start in the Italian capital, beating France’s Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the third round.

He will face Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo next as the Serb warms up for the French Open Grand Slam with a great chance to add to his six titles in Rome, where only Rafael Nadal has won more with 10.

There had been fears that Djokovic might join the list of players to withdraw from the tournament after the 24-time Grand Slam winner was covered by security staff as he was led from the arena on foot.

However tournament organisers later released a short statement saying Djokovic’s “condition is not a cause for concern”, and shared a video showing that the bottle had accidentally slipped from a spectator’s grasp.

Djokovic’s absence would have been a blow for the last major tournament before the French Open which is already without Italian world number two Jannik Sinner and third-ranked Carlos Alcaraz.

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

On Saturday Djokovic’s great clay-court rival Nadal continues his comeback in a second-round clash with seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Nadal has said that he will only play at the French Open, where he has won 14 times, if he feels competitive after a raft of injury problems over the last two years which have left him languishing 305th in the world rankings.

The Spaniard is one of a number of stars lining up on centre court on Saturday with women’s world number one Iga Swiatek, third seed Coco Gauff and men’s second seed Daniil Medvedev all playing in the baking Roman sunshine.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Swiatek faces unseeded Yulia Putintseva and comes into the event having won the Madrid Open last weekend.

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